Mentor Letter: How to cope with exam stress?
Artwork credit: Brainline Student Alyssa Coetzee
Exam stress often stems from the fear of failure. During our recent Gr 10 – 12 sessions with psychologist, Tanya van de Water, she explained that there are two solutions for exam stress; an elegant solution and a practical solution.
It is important to nourish your body and brain to ensure that you can study optimally; you can do this by eating well. Poor nutrition can lead to trouble sleeping, poor memory and difficulty solving problems.
Good food ideas include meat, fish, eggs, legumes and seeds for protein. Don’t forget about your fruits and veggies, which contain antioxidants. Avocados, nuts, olive oil and peanut butter contain monosaturated fats which improve your memory.
Cut back on the caffeine, although you may feel refreshed and focused, moderation is the key. Water, water and again water! Our brains are approximately 73% water and it is vital to keep your brain in tip top shape.
Ensure that you rest enough. Research has shown that sleeping enhances memory and that you will remember information better.
Prioritise! Prioritise what and when you want to study and work according to a plan. Draw up a study plan and wake up every day, knowing what you want to achieve.
Grab a blank calendar and add your exam dates and any other important appointments. Divide each day into three sessions – morning, afternoon and evening – slot in the exams according to morning or afternoon sessions.
If you write in both the morning and afternoon sessions, you will perhaps not want to study at high intensity in the evening. If you are writing an important subject the following day, you will need to. Use an evening such as this for reading your prescribed books, which is not a high intensity activity. If you have a morning session free, you can spend it preparing for the exam in the afternoon. Keep in mind, a study schedule can and sometimes need to be flexible.
Each of us have our own preferred study method, but there are some tips that all of us can use such as the following:
• Have a clean and quite workspace – with your materials ready to go.
• Know what paper you are writing and what topics are included in the exam.
• Take regular breaks.
• Ask for help!
• Reward yourself when you achieve your study goals.
Ms van de Water also shared a tip for during the exams which can be explained as “mind games”. Start off by answering questions that you can answer; that will boost your confidence and motivate you for the remainder of the paper.
And last but not least, breathe, calm down – you can do this!
“Trust yourself, you know more than you think you do.” – Benjamin Spock
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