Saturday, 28 May 2016

Anxiety During Exams

What an absolute bum, right?

The build up of stress and pressure piles up and you don't know what to do. Then suddenly the exam is tomorrow and you feel like you know nothing and then you just collapse in tears, curled up on the floor with your head feeling like it's about to explode and your chest physically hurting, so much so you feel/are sick. You get through the night and it's exam day and your anxiety picks up all over again, but you walk into school with a mask on your face, hiding behind the terror and managing not to cry. You sit down and your head is a mess and you can't do anything because everything aches and your hands are shaking.

Well, here are some little tips that could help in these situations...

1: Normal Anxiety 

Planning out your revision
Obviously this is something you must do long before your exams start. I would say a minimum of about six weeks before, depending on how many exams you
have. This in itself can be quite a task. I remember my revision timetable took a day in itself to complete, but I can assure you, it's so worth it. I find having the timetable has not helped me to revise, but also have a layout to my day to day life, motivating me to actually do something. The satisfaction of being able to cross a day off is only little,  but it's great. 
Look through all your old essays and reports, focusing on the main and essential material you need to know and highlight important things, writing them down on flash cards and using different coloured pens to help separate different facts. Something that has really helped me begin my revision, is to look at the specification for each exam, which you can easily find by googling the exam board, the subject and maybe the unit/tier. For example, AQA Geography Physical Spec.
Using the same or similar site, you can probably find some past papers. One of my teachers did an assembly weeks ago, where she repeatedly said for us to do past papers, something that hasn't left my mind once since. I have done 9 exams so far and doing past papers has really helped, they even sometimes repeat questions. I have also used the mark schemes to help with my revision. There are risks to this as you can end up just copying it, but it's all about self control.   
If you don't know or understand something, don't just flip it and skip over it, hoping that it won't show up in the exam. The likely hood is, it will. Go to a teacher or tutor about it and ask for some help. That way, you may still not understand it 100%, but you have at least tried to understand it and you've covered it to get your maximum understanding of the topic. 

Take proper breaks
Studying 24/7 will be to exhausting and will kill you out long before the exams even start.  Plan a day a week where you do no revision whatsoever so you can go out and do whatever you want without that feeling of guilt. I think a lot of people revise in huge blocks, cramming every least bit of information into their head over the space of 5 hours of solid revision, but this will get you more stressed out, I can guarantee. Take regular breaks, doing something that is nothing to do with any sort of education. Bang some music on and go wild, have a dance, do whatever. But do make sure you get back to revision, no matter how much you don't want to.
I think something a lot of you probably wouldn't want to do, or would avoid at all costs would be to excercise. This doesn't need to be some hardcore military work out, just a jog or a walk or some simple aerobics. A bit of a 15 minute Davina workout or maybe some  Charlotte Crosby bum blitz. Whatever. It will help you clear your head, ready to begin for the next revision session. 
Make sure you have atleast a half an hour break before you go to bed. This will help your brain relax and help you to not have those weird messed up dreams. I must admit I have previously used a herbal relaxant to calm me down but I'm not sure if it actually worked if I just thought it did. 

2: The Panic the Night Before

Even though you have done your best and revised loads, it's the night before and you can feel the panic setting in. Go over you revision cards another time, looking at key words and how to answer questions. 
Something that I have done to help me is to watch a comedy. Laughter is such a good medicine, it's crazy. It relaxes you so much and decreases the stress hormone, also releasing endorphins which promote an overall sense of well-being.
Get everything ready now, making sure everything is working and you have a spare pen, pencil, highlighter and rubber, maybe a ruler? Whatever you need. Be sure of what time your exam is tomorrow and how long you have. If you can't remember, FIND OUT. Set your clothes out too,p as organisation is key to feeling as little stress as possible.
This may not be the night before, but don't get to the exam too early or late. Surrounding yourself with people who are nervous could increase your anxiety levels immensely, but also being too late can make you even more stressed out. Take some light reading with you, leaving all textbooks and big pages of notes behind. Maybe flash cards? Some questions and answers to remember outside. 

3: The Panic in the Exam Hall

Make yourself comfortable. Get your pen out. Check that both your desk and your chair are comfortable and not wobbling about everywhere. This will just make you really annoyed, so ask an invigilator to help out. They can stick some tissue under a leg of your table or chair, or maybe change the desk itself. Most people are stressed at this point, so close your eyes and take a few deep breaths. Whatever preparation you have done, it's your job now to do your best, that's all you can do. 
Plan out your answers before you write them, doing your best to ignore everyone around you as you do this as this is the structure of your answer. It will also help the flow of your thoughts.
Time management is very important. Keep an eye on the time, so thatyoubhave enough time for your final answer. If you don't have enough time, make an outline in note form. At least you have out something down!
If your panic gets worse, stop, put down your pen and breathe. Move your eyes and neck around to relieve tension and if it helps, put your head on the desk for a bit, but don't fall asleep. Shake your arms at your sides and say something positive to yourself and imagine you are somewhere else. 
Also, take plenty of sips of water. Not only is this good for the brain, but it's also good for calming down and having a rest.

So the exam is over now, and you've done your best. That's all you can do. Don't even bother thinking about it again. I like to come home and burn it all just to signify the end of it all. 

Anyway, I hope that helped you in one way or another, 
Good luck to everyone and do your best!

Adios Amigos


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