3 Top Tips to Survive Exam Stress
‘the strongest kind of fear is the fear of the unknown’
Have you ever been so stressed about an exam, that it stopped you from giving your best?
It’s a common trap and one that is easily fallen into. Often, the more you want something, the more weight you put on your own shoulders to accomplish it. You then risk burning out: losing sleep, skipping meals, and running yourself into the ground. And whilst a little bit of stress is good to keep you focussed and alert, what steps can you take to keep it under control? Here are three…
- Sleep well.
“Sleep is not a luxury,” says Dr. James O’Brien, medical director of the Boston SleepCare Center in Massachusetts, USA. “It’s a necessity for optimal functioning.”
It’s maybe tempting to burn the candle at both ends to fit in extra studying, but that could be eating into your chances of performing well.
Sleeping allows the brain to recharge and reset for the day ahead. Without it, your memory, mood and ability to concentrate will be severely hampered. So get plenty of rest.
Tip: 7-9 hours a night is just right.
- Keep it real.
For some exams, there is a real need to revise certain facts, dates, equations etc, so you need to learn these by heart. For IELTS, your knowledge is not being tested, only your ability to speak, write, listen and read in English. It’s a test of your English for the real world.
So, your study should be about widening that ability as best as possible. Yes, it’s important to know how to form past and future tenses etc., but this is best learnt through using real language. Knowing that you’ve studied in an effective way will give you more confidence and reduce your stress.
Tip: Read the newspaper every day and practice writing summarising the articles you read or start a conversation with a friend on that topic.
- Practice, practice, practice
The gothic horror novelist H.P Lovecraft wrote that ‘the strongest kind of fear is the fear of the unknown’ – and he should know!
This definitely comes into play when we’re faced with a test or exam. ‘Not knowing’ what the test will be like or how the exam is structured can leave us stressed out.
So, the simplest way to overcome this is to get hold of practice test papers and familiarise yourself with the test itself.
If you’re thinking about taking the IELTS test you can find lots of free resources and practice papers here.
Tip: Try recreating test conditions by timing yourself as you sit a practice test.
|Running oneself into the ground|
|Meaning||:||to make yourself very tired by working too much|
|Meaning||:||Best or most favourable|
|burn the candle at both ends|
|Meaning||:||The go to bed late and get up early.|
|Eating into something|
|Meaning||:||To use or take away a large part of something valuable (eg, money or time).|
|Example||:||The high cost of living in London is eating into my savings|
|Meaning||:||to stop something happening easily|
|Example||:||Ankle injuries severely hampered Usain’s sprinting career.|
|Come into play|
|Meaning||:||Becoming active or effective|
|Example||:||Conditions for workers will change once the new labour law comes into play|