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How to reduce stress in the hours leading up to an exam

This article appears in: Study tips
Student slouched behind a pile of books

Exams can be a very stressful time, even if you’ve spent the whole semester planning and revising. We’ve put together a few tips to help control your stress levels in the hours leading up to an exam.

Prepare the night before

Gather your writing implements (pens, pencils, rulers, erasers etc.) into a clear plastic bag, put your clear water bottle on the top shelf in the fridge and grab your CDU student card. This will be one less thing to think about the day of your exam.

Arrive at your exam early

All your hard work preparing can be wasted when you’re stressed and anxious over getting to the exam room on time. You want to get there early to start with a fresh mind with only one focus – the exam at hand.

Find your own space outside of the exam room

Before you go into the exam, you will be surrounded by many other students feeling anxious and stressed out - just like you.

There are several things that you can do to minimise being influenced by other people:

  • Keep reminding yourself of all the positive thoughts you’ve had so far.
  • Avoid discussing with other students which areas you studied (or did not study), what you know (or do not know), and so on.
  • Avoid discussing possible exam questions or topics with other students.
  • Avoid asking yourself what you know about some topic - there will be time enough for that once the exam has started.
  • Try to stay relaxed by focusing on calming and positive thoughts.
  • Relax yourself by taking some deep breaths, hold them in and then count slowly as you let them out.
  • Focus your thoughts on what you are about to do, not on what you have already done.
  • Remember that you have done all that you can possibly do to prepare for the exam. The time for worrying about what to expect has passed.

Keep reminding yourself of the following points:

  • Even though you have may have prepared thoroughly for the examination you will never be totally prepared.
  • You will never know everything there is to know about your subject so focus on the main issues, ideas and points.
  • You do not have to give perfect answers. Exams are designed to test what you know.
  • Tell yourself you will pass.

We wish you the best (no luck, required)!

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