Coping with exam stress

caroleThere is a word that has the unique power to bring a storm of emotions on every student. It is more often than not a synonym of stress, panic, anxiety and self-doubt. You’ve guessed it: EXAMS!

Some extraordinary people thrive when they are faced with exams. They find a way to use the pressure to their advantage, and they succeed. Unfortunately, for us mere mortals, exams can be a tough pill to swallow. Like many of you, I have had my fair share of worry with exams looming just around the corner. Over the years however, I have learned how to overcome these insecurities and how to deal with them.

Change your perspective
It is all about attitude. Avoid the vicious circle of undermining yourself and doubting your abilities. Whether you are in your first or final year, give yourself credit for what you have achieved so far, and remember that you are capable of overcoming challenges that come your way. Positivity will not only boost your self-confidence, but will also put you in the right mindset to face your exams.

Get to the bottom of the problem and face it head on
We all experience examination stress differently; therefore the only way to relieve it is by identifying the underlying cause. If you are worried about not understanding course material, ask for help from your lecturers and classmates. Stuck on a subject? Switch to another for a while, and come back to it with a fresh mind. If you can’t concentrate alone, pair up with someone, and commit to a study routine together. The best way to test your own understanding is by being able to clearly explain the concept to someone else.

Give yourself enough time
I am not the first to say that allowing yourself enough time to revise is the best way to ease stress. We all study differently, and, as you progress through your degree, you will learn what works best for you. I find it useful to make a list of the material to be covered, and spread it over the revision period. There is no better feeling than checking things off a list! This will keep you motivated and makes sure you are progressing in the right direction. Don’t forget to allocate time for breaks and relaxing activities – your mind and body need some rest too!

On the day
It is unavoidable to be nervous on the day of the exam. Whether or not you let it affect your performance is entirely up to you. Do not panic, and remind yourself that you have done everything in your power to prepare. Read all the questions first, do not rush to answer them before you understand what is being asked of you. Focus your mind on the exam, take a few deep breaths, and tell yourself that you will do your best. Do not compare yourself to other people – remember that this is you proving to yourself that you can do it.

Whether this helps you ease exam stress, or just gives you that extra bit of perspective and motivation, I sincerely hope you found it useful and wish you all the best for the upcoming exams!

Carole Karra
Final year Pharmacy Student at King’s College London
RPS Student Champion

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