Part of the stress that comes with being a student is having to take exams that will ultimately determine whether you will pass or fail. But the experience doesn't have to be stressful—with the right approach, some dedication, and willpower, you can get that A+ without shooting your cortisol levels through the roof.
The key to acing exams is thoughtful preparation. If you manage your time and tasks properly, you'll be able to reduce the amount of unnecessary stress that comes with the pressure to perform. No matter what subject you're studying for, the following tips will help steer you in the right direction during exam time.
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#1 Don't procrastinate
Leaving things to the last minute is a surefire way to add unnecessary stress during exams. You may be tempted to scroll through Instagram for a few minutes or watch just one more episode of Game of Thrones before cracking open your textbooks, but it's very easy to get caught up in those distractions. A few minutes can turn into a few hours, and one more episode can turn into two or three more episodes. Sooner or later, you'd have dug yourself into a hole that's too deep to get out of.
When studying, it's always best to remove the distractions around you and focus on the tasks at hand. Take some time to plan your study sessions beforehand so that you can keep track of everything as you get through the material. Also, don't forget to reward yourself with short breaks every now and then—just make sure you don't overdo it.
#2 Don't cram everything in a night
Our brains can only handle so much information at a time. That's why it's important to spread your studying over multiple days instead of cramming everything in on a single night. While some people claim that they do better on exams when they cram for them, there's no denying that the time constraints add a lot of unnecessary stress to the experience.
Dedicate certain days to different topics. Allot more time to the topics that you feel you need more work on. Set aside a final day before the exam to go through all the material once more. By having a solid schedule to follow, you won't need to worry about rushing through everything at once.
#3 Don't give up food, sleep or hygiene
No matter how crunched you are for time, you should never neglect your body. You are not invincible—your body can only handle so much at a time. It needs sleep, it needs food, it needs a good shower. By taking care of your body, you will be giving it the best chance to retain information and function optimally during exams.
Just make sure you're giving yourself adequate amounts of each type of care. Getting two hours of sleep isn't enough. Neither is eating only once a day or forgetting to brush your teeth. Give your body the rest, nutrition and care it requires and the rest will follow.
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#4 Don't get stuck on one thing
When studying, you might come across a topic that you find difficult to understand. In moments like that, it's always good to either take a step back from the material for a short while or move on to the next topic and return to it later. Sometimes, trying to force yourself to get through challenging material will clog your mind instead of help it absorb new information.
If for some reason you are unable to fit a certain chapter in your preparation time, it may be better to skip it entirely than focus all of your remaining energy on it. It may be better to secure the points that you're sure of, instead of risking your mind going blank because of the last-minute cramming.
#5 Don't compare yourself to others
Lastly, everybody studies in different ways and at different paces. While you may want to know what chapter your friends are on, it may stress you out to discover that they are way ahead of you. At the end of the day, exams are not a competition. It's your grade on the line and only you can be accountable for your performance. Be confident in yourself and your study habits!