Identify, Manage, Prepare!
What is Exam Anxiety?excessive worrying about upcoming examsfear of being evaluatedapprehension about the consequences
What are the symptoms?Physical symptoms: headaches, nausea, faintness, feeling too hot or too cold, etc. Emotional symptoms: crying easily, feeling irritable, or getting frustrated quickly. Thinking ability: it can cause you to blank out or have racing thoughts that are difficult to control. Although many students feel some level of anxiety when writing exams, most can cope with that anxiety and bring it down to a manageable level.
Quick test of exam anxiety:If you drew a blank during the exam, can you answer the questions after the exam when you are more relaxed?
If the answer is Yes then you have experienced exam anxiety
Responses to stressyou may experience one, or a combination,of the following:
Increased heart ratefast, shallow breathingtense musclesshivering & shakingsweaty handsdry mouthupset stomachdiarrhea / constipationconfusion
Vomitingheadacheinsomnia / nightmarespoor concentrationanxietya need to get awaytirednesschanges in eating habits
Unhelpful ThoughtsIm not readyWhats the use?Why am I doing this?I have no future in thisI dont have enough timeI must be stupid
I cant do thisI know Ive messed upIts not going wellTheres too much to coverIll never get into the faculty I want etc, etc
These lead to emotions..WorryFear DiscouragementAngerEmbarrassmentconfusionresentmentDespairHopelessnessDepression
Preparing for the ExamOrganize your course material and suppliesStart your revision earlyBreak studying down into sectionsThink about the most important topics and what questions might be askedChoose a quiet and comfortable place to study
Before the ExamMake sure you have prepared by studyingBring the supplies you need to write the examMake sure you are well rested and well fedRelax your body and mind by using anxiety management techniquesAvoid other anxious studentsAvoid any last minute review of notes
During the ExamMake sure you are comfortableRead over the entire exam firstReview the marking system and divide your time accordinglyComplete the questions you know and that are worth the highest value firstIf you start to panic or become anxious, practice your anxiety management techniquesReward yourself, regardless of the outcome, for your effort
Anxiety Management TechniquesThought Stopping Tactile DistractionMantraFocusingBridging Self TalkVisualizationBreathing
Thought StoppingWhen you become anxious, you might start to have negative thoughts like, I cant answer this or I am so stupid. If this happens, halt the thoughts by mentally shouting STOP!!! You can also picture a red light or a stop sign, anything that represents the action of stopping. Once the thought has ceased, try and return your focus to your exam.
Tactile DistractionWhen you become anxious, touching, squeezing or rubbing something like a rock, wishing stone, stress ball or even your fingernail can be helpful. It helps to distract other thoughts and impulses and lessen the anxiety by shifting the focus onto the object. Once that happens, re-focus your attention on your exam.
MantraThe use of a mantra is derived from meditation. A mantra is a word or phrase that you repeat to yourself. Saying something like, calm or relax under your breath or in your head over and over again can help reduce anxiety. Once you feel calm again, return to your exam.
FocusingIf you develop anxious thoughts during an exam, you can focus in on one object without shifting your stare. You can also count the seats in each row or count the number of students with red hair. You can also play mental games like making little words out of a larger word. All of these help you distract your attention away from the anxious feelings and return to your work.
BridgingIt can help to carry or wear something with positive associations with another person, place or event. Touching this bridging object can be comforting. Take a minute to think about the person, place or situation which makes you feel good. This can have a very calming effect and allow you to refocus on your exam.
Self TalkWhen we are faced with anxiety or panic, we often give ourselves negative messages like, I cant do this or I am going to fail. Try to replace these messages with positive, encouraging thoughts like, Its okay. I am doing great. I am not going to let anxiety ruin this for me. Once you have calmed down, return to your exam.
VisualizationWhen you become anxious, it is easy to develop negative images in your mind. Try to close your eyes and replace those images with calming, relaxing, happy thoughts. The thoughts can be specific or personal like a situation that occurred in your life or they can be generic like waves crashing against the rocks near the ocean. Once you feel more calm, return to your exam.
BreathingWhen we feel anxious, our breathing usually becomes heavy and short due to an increased heart rate. If you are feeling this way, try to take deep slow breaths in through your nose and out through your mouth. Breathe in until you feel you cant take in any more air and then breathe out the same way. Do this at least three times in a row. Closing your eyes at the same time might help. Return to your exam.
Helpful QuotationsAs for courage and will - we cannot measure how much of each lies within us, we can only trust there will be sufficient to carry through trials which may lie ahead. Andre Norton A person starts to live when he can live outside himself. Albert Einstein (1879-1955)
Make a soundtrack for your lifeMotivate you toSurviveDo better and be stronger than beforeReach your dream, although you or other may think its impossibleKeep focus on what you strive/fight for
Impossible Dream[Andy Williams]To dream the impossible dream,To fight the unbeatable foe,To bear with unbearable sorrow,To run where the brave dare not go.
To right the unrightable wrong,To love pure and chaste from afar,To try when your arms are too weary,To reach the unreachable star.
This is my quest,To follow that star --No matter how hopeless,No matter how far.
To fight for the rightWithout question or pause,To be willing to marchInto hell for a heavenly cause.
And I know if I'll only be trueTo this glorious questThat my heart will lie peaceful and calmwhen I'm laid to my rest.
And the world will be better for this,that one man scorned and covered with scarsstill strove with his last ounce of courage.To fight the unbeatable foe.To reach the unreachable star.
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