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volume-46,15-21, February, 2020

Tips to overcome exam stress and anxiety

Nidhi Prasad

Exam season is right around the corner, which probably means that the notorious exam stress should be setting in right about… now?

As the notifications date February 15th of Board Exams for senior secondary students is out  - It has put young adults in a state of dilemma, as they are confused between the joy of enjoying a riot of color around (with blooming flowers everywhere) or face the anxiety and pressure (Board Exam -February 15th). No wonder, counselors are being bombarded with phone calls for tips to de -stress.

The month of February is synonymous with pleasant weather as winter gives way to summer. This is a period to be enjoyed by the young adults. An ideal time to be spent with their family and friends before the punishing summer, instead they have pressure to study and not waste time in meeting friends. A fine balance between enjoying this season and a study has to be struck.

Keeping yourself completely shut is not a good idea. Do not avoid talking to your friends or meeting them once in a while. But, do so after you achieve your study targets regularly.

Balancing relationships and studies is not a laughing matter, it requires dedication. Both call for your time and devotion to grow and bear the fruits you have wanted. And, it can succeed only if you are in a relationship with a person with similar interests for knowledge and the love for it.

How to Prioritize

It's a fact: Sometimes life forces us to put more weight on one thing than another. Often, this priority shift means forgoing one goal in exchange for another; for example, weakening your professional aspirations in return for relationship growth. But you shouldn't have to sacrifice one aspect of your life for another.

The good news is prioritizing doesn't mean sacrifice. It means adjustment. By building a strong foundation for both your romance for knowledge and work life, you can prevent disruption when priorities shift.

In the battle of books vs. girlfriends or boyfriend, the books have to win.

How Not to Succumb to Stress. Ways to Handle Stress without Killing Yourself

Sometimes the pressure you feel can help keep you focused, other times it can cause stress. Come to think of it that the problem has acquired such a monstrous shape that the Prime Minister of our Country has to take out two hours from his busy schedule to speak to the student's community emphasizing the need to stay stress-free for the sake of better performance. Herein lies a lesson for the Parents as well as the Teachers that the responsibility of helping our children lies with us, parents by realizing that they should not put the burden of their own aspirations on their children and Teachers should keep using the power of encouragement by constantly boosting the morale of their students.

Why Do People Experience Exam Stress?

  • Worry they might fail
  • Don't feel prepared
  • Want to do really well
  • Don't have much time to study
  • Need to get an expected result
  • Don't think they will do well
  • Find it hard to understand what they're studying
  • Feel pressure from family to get good marks
  • Feel they need to compete with others
  • Have other things happening in their life

Things to Do

Studying for a test can be hard, especially if you're distracted. Focusing on studying will make it easier, which means you'll finish sooner. The key is to eliminate distractions and set you up in an ideal studying environment.

It's never too late to set up good study habits. Here are some helpful ideas:

  • Find a quiet place to study without distractions.
  • Set-up your study space. Make sure it's not too cluttered and has everything you might need.
  • Find out as much as you can about the exam so you can prepare.
  • Learn to make 'mind maps' and use them to collect ideas and thoughts, use bright colors to help remember important links.
  • Make a plan of what you want to work on in each study session. Break it down into small tasks and work on one task at a time.
  • Take regular short breaks - use this time to have a drink, get something to eat or play with a pet.
  • Ask for help - If you're having trouble with something you're studying ask a teacher, friend, sibling or parent to help.


Planning is key to good revision. When left to our own devices we sometimes struggle to find the motivation to get off Netflix and actually do some work -So draw out a timetable of allocated time slots to spend on each subject and stick to it!

Here are some tips to help exam day go smoothly:

  • Work out what you need to take with you on exam day and organize this the night before.
  • Eat a good, light breakfast - this will help with energy and concentration.
  • If you feel yourself getting worried before your exam - spend some time focusing on your breathing.
  • When you sit down to do your exam, take time to slow your breathing and relax.
  • Read through the exam paper carefully. Underline key words and instructions.
  • Work out how long you have for each question or section.
  • Aim to have time to re-read answers through and to make any changes.
  • Work on the questions that you find easiest first.

Tips To Help While Studying

  • Stick to a routine by eating and sleeping at around the same time each day
  • Get a good night's sleep. This gives your brain time to recharge and remember what you've learnt.
  • Give yourself mini rewards once you achieve your study goals - watch a TV show or go for a run
  • Keep focused on your study - don't let other stuff like friendship worries distract you.
  • Avoid junk food - it will bring a sudden burst of energy and then fall away quickly leaving you feeling worn-out.
  • Eat a well-balanced diet - lots of fresh fruit, vegetables, cereals, grains, nuts and protein are all good for the brain and energy levels.
  • Allow yourself time to rest - try out some relaxation activities like deep breathing, meditation or listening to music.
  • Cut back on energy drinks they can increase nerves. Drink lots of water instead!

Last Minute Study Tips

A few days before

  • Start waking up at the time you would need to wake up for your exams and sit down to study exactly at the time at which you have your exam.
  • Try solving a mock paper for the full duration of your exam, at the same time and in the same conditions
  • Meditate for 10 minutes everyday
  • Don't start learning any new topic
  • Eat healthy food
  • Have a stress reliever like a pet or a walk in fresh air or watching a comedy show
  • Get adequate sleep
  • If your exam centre is new - visit it before hand and discover the travel medium
  • Buy extra pens etc, and keep all your stationery ready

Night before

  • Pack your pencil box and stationery and admit card / hall ticket
  • Relax with your family and watch something that makes you laugh
  • Close your books by the evening, get some fresh air and a light walk
  • Do not listen to your friends who tell you how well prepared they are - or how nervous they are
  • Use Your Moments Wisely - The few minutes before you switch off the light is a fantastic time for memorization. Learning before sleep significantly improves memory retention - so when you're tucked up in bed, have a quick read through of the most important facts, equations or vocabulary. Then switch off.

The Day of the exam

  • Get up early, sit in meditation for 10 minutes. Get ready early.
  • Have a light breakfast before going, hydrate.
  • Don't be late

Remind yourself how well prepared you are

Do not carry your books and notes with you. Too much last-minute cramming minutes before can send your brain into a spin.

When in the exam room, sit comfortably.

Don't drink too much water

Do not panic, it is not the end of the world

Always remember Exam never tests you. It tests your preparations.

Desire, Dedication, Concentration and the will to achieve and Win will make you a Champion

If you're feeling stressed about exams, you're not alone.

A morale-boosting talk to someone during exam time can help a lot.

(The author is a Senior Counseling Psychologist.

e-mail id- nidhiprasadcs @gmail.com)

Views expressed are personal.

Image Courtesy: Google