How to Cope with Exam Pressure
Just over a month ago, I had… an episode… at school. It was the Friday before exam week, and I was feeling the pressure. Because my school is super organised, exam week also happens to be the last week of semester, so, as usual, we were also busy complying with our “super organised” teachers. I’m sure you’ve had the same sort of time, where every teacher decides they have an assignment that absolutely has to go towards your grade, and it’s very important, and oh yeah, it’s due in a week. For the first time, I was stressing about exams and about assignments. Not good. I learnt some things from my episode, so I thought I’d share them.
First of all, if you’re feeling overwhelmed, don’t be afraid to talk to someone about it. No, venting on Facebook is not what I mean. Most teachers will be more than happy to help you. Consider this option, especially if you don’t feel comfortable talking to the school counsellor. No one is going to mock you, just be prepared to answer questions: in my experience, emotional people don’t explain things very well :). If you’re stressing about an assignment, go to the teacher, ask for an extension, or for some extra help.
Secondly, don’t wait for yourself to get overwhelmed, because that usually means you’ve left it too late. For weeks before the pressure burst, I was calm, a bit arrogant about how much I could achieve. I kept putting things off, I had a “She’ll be right.” attitude about studying and assignments. Are you ready? Here’s another lecture about planning out your studying and not cramming. Never mind, I’m sure you know what I’m going to say. Here’s what I want you to do from now on, and I’m going to do it too:
- Get a calendar. Any calendar. I’d get a Google Calendar, but I’m a Google fan girl.
- Mark out a due date. Really big.
- Decide how to split your assignment up. Little things like ‘borrow books from library’, ‘search Google Scholar’, and ‘write introduction’.
- Guesstimate how long it will take you to complete it, or how long you have to complete it. You’ll get more accurate with practice.
- Mark some more dates on your calendar.
- Stick to it.
That last one’s the most important, you have to walk the walk, you can’t just talk the talk.
Next up: revise your notes early and often. This is a rookie mistake, one which I made. I’ve never really needed to study for tests before, but exams are different. You’re trying to remember up to 6 months of content, not to mention all the stuff you’ve learnt in previous courses. On top of that, you’re attempting to squeeze multiple subjects into your limited mind. Unlike Gmail storage, your brain doesn’t expand. Go back to your calendar, and schedule in revision times, maybe every one or two weeks, just to keep your mind fresh. And remember, just because you could repeat the first topic backwards then, doesn’t mean you can do it now.
There we have it, all the things you know you should do, but don’t do anyway. I thought I’d give it a bit of Awesome Study spin, and if I can save at least one person the trouble I went through, it will have been worth it. Thanks for tuning in.