Six steps to a better exam experience
Exam nerves are a sign that you take your studies seriously and you want to do well; that all the work you've put into your GCSE's, your A levels, Degree or Masters over the year has been worthwhile. The way you can beat those exam nerves is to be fully prepared - which is why I am writing this before the Easter holidays - as now is the time to make sure you have all that you need to succeed.
It is perfectly normal to feel anxious about exams, and you may feel you are the only person feeling this way, but if you talk to friends, family and teachers you will soon find out it’s perfectly normal, and in fact a small amount of stress is helpful in getting yourself motivated towards your goals.
Some students are not even aware that the symptoms they are experiencing are anxiety, it might be that they can’t focus on a task, or they feel nauseous or sick all the time. Perhaps their eating has suffered and they are losing weight. They may be losing sleep at night, or lose their motivation altogether and just want to stay in bed. All these are natural signs of stress.
There’s also another sign that indicates anxiety may be on the rise – impostor syndrome – students feel that they are a fake, and that people will find out. They fear their teachers, tutors and family will find out how they were conning everyone into thinking they were clever. It is a more common problem with highly intelligent individuals as they start doubting themselves and their abilities. Even Albert Einstein suffered from the syndrome near the end of his life, and it’s been found that about 70% of people have suffered with it at some time in the past.
The good news is that exam nerves can be dealt with in a number of ways:
1) Set up a timetable of revision to start in the Easter holidays, that goes all the way through to the exams. Don’t forget to schedule rests and participating in enjoyable activities during this time – balance is key.
2) Work your way through past papers to get an idea of the kinds of subject matter that is likely to come up, and make sure it’s up to date.
3) Try and keep off caffeine and fizzy drinks - sugar and caffeine can hinder concentration.
4) Turn off your phone and Internet connections whilst revising, you need to focus on the important tasks, and not get interrupted every five minutes.
5) Exercise – research has shown that exercise not only improves mood but it also aids our short term memory and recall.
6) Try relaxation such as hypnotherapy to help you refocus, build confidence levels, change the way you feel about yourself and the exams, improve memory, recall, sleep and learn tools to help with negative thoughts, flashbacks and learn to relax.
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About Penny Ling
Penny Ling is an experienced solution focused hypnotherapist specialising in Exam stress. Having studied at Oxford Brookes, she has direct experience of stress during exam time. She works in a GP practice in Beaumont St, Oxford and clinic in Abingdon. A large proportion of her clients are students from Oxford University or are University staff.