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5 Tips to Staying Cool During Exams

Revising for looming examinations is oftentimes one of the most unpleasant activities for any student (possibly rivalled only by homework). The expectation to do well, peer pressure from classmates, and the feeling of not wanting to disappoint, all contribute to high levels of stress that you will face during that crucial exam preparation period.

If not managed well, excessive levels of stress can lead to a variety of physical, emotional, and mental problems. First off, you’re highly likely to cut down sleeping time in exchange for a few extra hours of studying. The lack of sleep will cause your health to deteriorate, making you feel fatigue or even fall sick. Also, you may opt to skip meals or go for easy yet unhealthy food options like junk food, instant noodles, and sweets just to have more time for revision – resulting in weight gain and other health complications.

Other than health issues, the high levels of stress experienced during the pre-exam period can take a mental and emotional toll on you. You’re more likely to have mood swings and temper flares during this period, which can lead to strained relationships and unnecessary conflict. You might also suffer from clouded judgement, having irrational thoughts, and loss of concentration from long hours of constant revision.

Therefore it’s crucial that every student has a coping mechanism and learn ways on how to manage stress well during the examination period. Here are some tips to help you stay calm (read: sane) as you prepare for your examinations.

1. Take short breaks to rest and destress

If you have participated in a long distance run before, you will know that sprinting at maximum speed the whole way will only backfire on you. You’ll run out of energy quickly and you might even faint or experience excessive fatigue. 

The same goes with your revision. Spending long hours at a time revising will get you nowhere. In fact, it will wear you down even more because the need to constantly focus will tire out your brain, resulting in loss of concentration instead. That means that the hours you just spent revising may just go down the drain. Therefore, it is vital to ensure that your brain is well-rested.

Allow your brain to take short breaks in between. For example, take a 10-minute break for every 1 hour spent revising. For those who typically find it difficult to stay focused for long periods, you can break it down even further to a 5-minute break every 30 minutes. Grab a drink, go for a quick shower, play a quick mobile game or two. Giving your brain some time to cool down amidst your revision sessions allows it to rejuvenate and prepare for the next stint of revisions. This increases your productivity and you’ll be less likely to look for distractions.

2. Reward yourself for small achievements

The ultimate goal of revising for your exams is to be thoroughly prepared when the big day comes so that you can score with flying colours. Still, do not forget to give yourself some credit for constantly improving throughout the course of your revisions. 

Rather than pressuring yourself to memorise every single sentence in the textbook or notes, set small and achievable milestones along the way, then reward yourself when you are able to achieve them. 

Whether it’s solving an Additional Mathematics equation you’ve always struggled to master, or remembering important details in Sejarah that always seemed to escape you, make sure to reward yourself for showing improvement. This helps to give you a sense of accomplishment, which helps to keep motivation levels high and ensures you get the rest you deserve!

Give yourself a well-deserved pat on the back and do something that makes you happy: watch a movie, indulge in your hobby, or even have your favourite dessert. This works wonders in reducing stress levels and keeping you driven to continue challenging yourself.

3. Take cat naps when you are tired

When you are in the thick of revising for your examinations, it’s understandable that you may treat sleep as a luxury you cannot afford. However, you shouldn’t feel guilty when you feel sleepy as you revise as it’s natural for the brain and body to eventually become tired after long periods of concentration.

Instead of forcing yourself awake by consuming excessive amounts of coffee and energy drinks, take cat naps to rejuvenate the brain. Research has shown that taking a 10-15 minute power nap is effective in reducing stress, boosting memory, improving focus, and enhancing problem-solving skills – which will prove to be important in the long run.

4. Exercise and eat healthy

For many students, the main go-to “power-ups” while they undergo their revisions are unhealthy doses of caffeine and unhealthy snacks. They are cheap and convenient sources that presumably help to elevate your energy levels. This could not be further from the truth and it may even lead to an increase in stress levels in the long run (especially after realizing how much weight you’ve gained!).

Maintaining a healthy lifestyle not only helps to reduce stress levels, it also helps to ensure that your body and brain is nourished. Firstly, exercise releases endorphins (a.k.a happy hormones), the body’s natural stress relievers. 

Exercise also keeps the brain fresh, enabling you to add more quality to your revision sessions. More importantly, staying active and healthy ensures you do not fall sick easily and that your health is at its prime, enabling you to become more productive.

5. Start revisions early

Let’s face it; last-minute revision sessions will never be as effective as the ones where you had ample time to work on. Having an early start reduces stress as you will have more time on your hands to practise and learn, allowing your brain to absorb and process the information.

Instead of cramming your revision within days of your exams, start your revision by about one month in advance (or more!). Having more time on your hands will allow you to better identify topics which require more attention. Also, you’ll have more time to consult teachers, classmates or friends to guide you.

Last but not least, starting your revisions early also gives you more flexibility in terms of your revision timing. There will be days when you do not feel like revising, or worse, unavoidable instances that might cause you to lose a few days’ worth of revision time. By starting your revisions early, you’ll not be as pressured for time and you will still have the space to eventually catch up.

While exams are oftentimes the bane of many students’ existence, keeping calm and collected can go a long way in helping you get the most out of your revisions without the negative side effects.

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