How to Stay Calm and Focused During Exams

Exam anxiety is a problem for many students. If you freeze up and your mind goes blank in test conditions, it doesn’t matter how much time and effort you’ve put into study. You won’t get the marks you’re capable of. 

With end of year exams just a few months away, now is a good time to learn how to relax and focus. These tips will help you stay calm under pressure and perform at your best.

Avoid Last Minute Cramming 

A sure-fire way to create anxiety is to leave study until the last minute. If you’re not prepared, or you’ve crammed the night before, you’ll feel tired, worried and unfocused.

Not only can last minute cramming be exhausting and stressful, research has found  it can hinder recall. This is because information is stored in the visual cortex rather than long term memory. To perform at your best, study lightly the night before an exam and ensure you get a good night’s rest.

Practice Completing Past Papers

Practicing past papers in exam conditions is highly recommended for reducing exam stress. When you’re accustomed to finishing an exam within the allotted time frame, it can relieve much anxiety.

Practice papers will give you a solid idea of the type of questions to expect so you can come up with strategies for answering them. If you’re not sure where to find previous exams, talk to your teacher. 

Prioritise and Plan Ahead

Reading through the whole paper first before you start answering questions is very beneficial. Jot down quick notes as you’re reading to refer to later. This not only helps you feel more prepared, but your subconscious mind is busy working on the answers while you’re dealing with other questions. 

Some students like to do the easy questions first, while others prefer to tackle the harder ones. There’s no right or wrong way, so work out which approach works best for you. 

Avoid Caffeine and Sugar

It’s tempting to load up on soft drinks and energy drinks when you’re studying for exams. While sugar and caffeine will make you feel alert in the short-term, eventually you’ll experience a drop in energy levels.

If you have a sugar crash during an exam it can seriously affect your concentration. The best way to stay focused is to have a balanced lifestyle. This means eating well and getting enough sleep and exercise. Hydration is also very important so drink plenty of water. 

Cultivate a Positive Mindset

A positive mindset during exams will help you cope with the pressure. It helps to maintain a big picture view when it comes to exams. Ask yourself what’s the worst that can happen if you bomb out? 

Your whole future doesn’t hinge on a single test. If you don’t do as well as you’d hoped, look at it as a learning experience which will help you do better next time. 

Practice Regular Deep Breathing 

When you practice deep breathing on a regular basis, you have an instant technique to calm yourself when you start to feel stress and anxiety. This simple method takes just a few minutes a day, and its effects are remarkable.

All you have to do is close your eyes and focus on your breath. Make sure you breathe deep into your belly as this will relax your whole body. After just a few breaths you’ll start to feel calmer. 

Conquer exam anxiety with these simple techniques!