Exam Stress: some advice that worked for me

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How to Tackle Exam Stress

Stress during the exam period is something almost every student experiences at some stage. One of these students is Lynn.

In the blog below she talks about her struggles in school and how she overcame them.

When I went into Year 11, I was instantly hit with the truck of information regarding the two years that awaited me. It was extremely overwhelming, despite the huge effort made by teachers. Not only are we faced with the challenging pressures of the exams, but also all of the other things that we must do to prepare for the new chapter in our lives. For me anyway, preparing for all this involved a lot of stress. However, there are some little things that we, as students can do to prevent these pressures from taking control of our thoughts and our anxiety.

I would love to share with you all, the things I did that helped me through what felt like a torturous, never ending journey but was achievable, at the end of the day.

1. Get Organised

Personally, when I don't feel in control and I’m not organised, my anxiety levels rise rapidly. Something small, like missing a set of notes on a minor topic would result in a sudden feeling of being very unprepared. Some of us students may feel the need to prepare for every type of question that could appear on the VCE exams and my suggestion is to get organised ASAP. Keep on top of the organisation of your notes. Trust me on this one, it makes a huge difference and leads to life being a lot easier. The sooner you start, the simpler it will be.

Get folders for each subject, use highlighters, dividing tabs; stationary is there for a reason.

2. Music Playlists

Throughout the years, I made multiple playlists; for fitness exercises, sleeping, eating, studying – everything. During the VCE exams, I constantly blasted really motivational songs to start the day with a positive outlook. To tell you the truth, something tiny, like waking up to find no milk for my morning cup of coffee would have a pretty negative impact on my mood.

I would try to encourage all students to make a playlist that can give you positive vibes and help you to get motivated or chilled out.

3. Breath Deeply

I remember sitting in a classroom, reading notes before one of my exams. I was very nervous about this particular exam and I could feel my heart racing. I discovered through researching anxiety that your senses increase tenfold. This causes thoughts to sprint around our minds and we can get really worked up. The only thing that got me through those intense moments in school was getting into a routine of breathing exercises.

Inhale through your nose for four seconds and exhale through your mouth for five. Despite getting some peculiar looks from fellow students, I would often sit during class hours and complete these breathing techniques, even out loud if it meant I would be more calm.

Ignore the looks, the most important thing is you.

4. Countdown

Sometimes as students, we can sit and think ourselves into a bad mood. Despite how many hours I spent studying, I continued to think that I was not doing enough, which ultimately led to a feeling of self-doubt and a low feeling in general. When this happens, it's particularly important to stop those thoughts immediately because we really can be our own worst enemies at times.

Counting down from one-hundred to zero sounds rather silly, but believe me, it should not be underestimated.

5. Talk to your friends

You would be shocked at how others are feeling, despite of how they may appear in class or at lunch. A few times in school, I felt like I was genuinely not coping with the stress of studying, completing homework, doing well in class tests and appearing in control, all at the same time. One evening, I was sitting at home after a long day, I was both physically and mentally drained. I was messaging some friends when I got a text saying, “So, how is Year 12 actually going for you?” and at the beginning, I was a bit unsure as to how I would answer. Would I tell them the honest truth that I was finding things tough or would I take the blasé path, shrug it off and say, “Yeah, it’ll be OK in the morning”. I took the scary step of admitting to a fellow student that things were tense, only to receive a relieving reply that they were feeling the exact same way.

So please, do me a favour and talk to others, see how your peers are feeling. Don’t isolate yourself and seriously, do not be embarrassed if you’re feeling stressed or worried. Us students are all in the same boat, at the end of the day.

So there you have it, I was a little ball of anxiety in my final year at school and could not see the opportunities that would be available to me in the future. There were many times in Year 12 where I wanted to give up and simply not sit the exams. However, through the support of the people around me and through doing the few things that I have mentioned above, I made it through to the other side of the daunting VCE tunnel and so can you!

Good luck with your study and exams!

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