For me, the key to managing anxiety and exams is simply to be as prepared as possible. I like to identify a few areas in which preparation can seriously help alleviate my exam anxiety and wanted to share some of mine to help you create your own preparation plan.
1. Revision notes
Writing notes is a tiresome and often mind-numbing task; it is however a task that should not be left to the last minute. In order to get the best out of revision sessions, you should aim to have your notes prepared in advance to avoid spending hours of valuable revision time making them. I find that keeping on top of making notes from the get-go is an invaluable habit when it comes to both reducing stress and improving grades.
With anxiety levels high and being seemingly stuck in an endless pit of revision, cooking might be the last thing on your mind. But I find that it can be a key tool in battling my exam anxiety. Bulk cooking and freezing meals for when the exams start means that when time is tight you will always have food ready, giving you peace of mind.
Taking breaks from revision to cook a healthy and hearty meal is a great way to push exams to the back of your mind for a short while and let creative juices flow. Other creative and constructive distractions, such as painting or dancing, or any other form of exercise can be equally beneficial.
3. Take breaks
Make sure to schedule regular breaks so that you don’t end up feeling overwhelmed. Consider making a revision time-table so you can make sure to plan your time effectively. Working for hours on end can actually be counter-productive as it’s impossible to maintain concentration if you’re studying for too long. Aim to take a ten minute break for every hour or so of work you do; you can come back feeling refreshed and that your break was well-deserved. If you find yourself easily distracted by your phone or other devices, make sure to switch them off or to put them on airplane mode!
4. Support network
One of the most important pieces of preparation you can do to help with your anxiety in the lead-up to exams is to establish a support network. Reaching out to friends and family means that you have people to help you cope and to let your feelings out. These key supports can include: a study-buddy to help you revise; somebody not doing exams to be your rock and to help detach from exam overload; and somebody to relax and refresh with. Universities can also provide essential support so I would highly recommend going to talk to the welfare team who will be able to give professional advice and support in dealing with exam-induced anxiety as well as with any other worries you might have.
Exam anxiety will always be there but preparation can help to make it less of an obstacle. I encourage you to form your own unique preparation plan that tackles your personal exam anxieties and struggles and creates a solid base from which you can build on.
If you enjoyed this article, check out Looking After Your Mental Health at University, or Mental Health Awareness Week: It's OK to Say You're Not OK.