Thursday, 14 May 2015

Six simple steps for beating exam stress

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Above: NEC Student Services Development Manager Louise

Louise is NEC’s Student Services Development Manager and part of her role is to assist NEC students in booking exams at our partnership exam centres. In this week’s blog she will share her experience in dealing with exam stress and getting prepared for exam day.

I’ve seen hundreds of students take their exams during my time at NEC, I’ve even been one myself so I appreciate that it can be a stressful time of year. I want to share with you my six simple steps for avoiding stress in the run up to your exams and some useful advice for making sure you’re prepared on the day.

  1. Eat well. I know you’ve heard it all before, but diet really does make a difference to your attention span and general well-being. Plenty of fresh fruit and veg will do wonders for your concentration.
  2. Exercise regularly. This goes hand in hand with eating well, but can have a surprising impact on your energy levels. It might sound like it will eat in to your revision time, but taking some exercise will give you chance for some good thinking time and help you to put things in perspective.
  3. Get some sleep. A lot of people are tempted to stay up late into the night revising the closer they get to exams – I know I was. The more tired you are, the more you’re likely to panic and increase your stress levels.
  4. Think about your breathing. Sounds simple, but closing your eyes and taking ten deep breaths can help you to feel less stressed.
  5. Fresh air. Keep a window open while you’re revising, or take your exercise outside. Number four is also much more effective if you do it in the fresh air of your garden, local park or even out of the window!
  6. Have a good chat. There’s nothing like a good natter and a giggle to lift your mood. Whether it’s your mum, your son or your best mate from work if you’re feeling the pressure give them a call or invite them over. You’ll feel so much better afterwards.

On the day advice

On the day advice really starts the evening before. Make sure you’ve double checked the time of your exam and, unless it’s a venue you really know well, your travel arrangements for the next day. It’s also useful to pack your bag the night before, making sure you have everything you need for your exam including a spare pen and your identification.

Stop revising nice and early, don’t be tempted to cram last minute and follow some of the steps above. Have a healthy balanced dinner, perhaps take a walk and make sure you get an early night.

Unless you’re one of those people that wakes up peacefully and naturally on time every day, you might want to set an alarm the night before to make sure you get up early and don’t have to rush around.

Hopefully you’ll wake feeling calm and rested. Make sure you give yourself time to have a good breakfast to avoid the embarrassing stomach rumble mid-exam!

Make sure you leave in good time, it’s far better to be early than late.

Now it’s time for the main event: the exam. It’s always advisable to read through the instructions thoroughly first. You should also read every question carefully before answering, it’s amazing what misreading just one word can do to your perception of the question.

Where there is a choice of question, don’t just answer the first one if you know the answer, consider the options carefully and reflect on which question you can answer most fully.

Keep an eye on the time, you don’t want to run out before you’ve had chance to attempt each question, and before the end make sure you read through all of your answers to make sure that you have given the best answers that you can. Don’t forget to check the back of the exam paper too, in case of any other questions.

All that’s left is to hand in your paper, and give yourself a pat on the back!

I hope you find this useful, and I wish you the best of luck for your exams. Don’t forget to let us know how you get on!

If you would like to be one of the thousands of students that take their exams independently each year, visit our website to find out about the wide range of flexible distance learning courses we offer, or get in touch and speak to our team directly.

If you want some additional revision support, our special offer on exam paper marking might be of interest. During the month of May, if you are an existing student, you can have two past papers marked by your personal tutor for £40. Talk to your course co-ordinator to find out more.

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