Tips and Tricks to Acing this Term’s Exams


Teamwork. Three young architects working on a project

For students, exam time hits just as summer starts to heat up. Hours and hours of lectures, readings and learning are now put to the test. The thought of having to perform, and the fear of forgetting what you know, can make even the brightest student nervous. Fortunately, you’re not alone. Here are a few tips that can help make exam season smoother.

Breathe slowly

When you get nervous, you tend to breathe faster. To relax, try focusing on taking big deep breaths to regain control of your breathing. When your body and mind are both calm, free recall of information is much easier.

Remember to eat and drink

Although food and water are not at the top of the list of things you should remember before an exam, it is important that you get something to eat and drink before the exam. If you eat healthy foods, your blood sugar will be more stable, and it will help keep your brain and body going. For the same reason you should also remember to drink water so you are ready for your performance at the exam table.

Keep Cool

If you are allowed, bring in a small personal battery powered fan to the exam room. An alternative method if fans are prohibited is to bring an ice pack / cool pack to place on your neck. Keeping your body temperature down will help prevent your body from overproducing sweat.

Sleep and avoid Coffee

Yes, you have heard it a million times: you need to sleep!  Sleep is not only important for retaining information, but the right amount of sleep (7 to 9 hours per night*) will help you focus during your exam. If you find yourself reaching for a cup of coffee to wake up, you probably didn’t get enough sleep the night before. Sleepy eyes and a sleepy mind is a recipe for a shaky hand when writing that exam.

Remember Self-Confidence

Nervousness can often cause us to lose confidence, and exams are when you need it most. Be sure to wear clothes that you feel comfortable in, and be sure to use an antiperspirant that works for you, so you do not need to worry about sweat and odor on the big day.

Last but not least, remember that everything will be all right. It is just an exam after all; it certainly does not define you.

Good luck and happy studying!

*Sleepless at Stanford: http://web.stanford.edu/~dement/sleepless.html

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