Tips for Exam Stress: Remember the 5 P's!
Your heart is racing, you’re losing sleep, your appetite is changing…is it love? Nope. It’s EXAMS! Stress is a normal reaction to an event or occasion where we need to do our best. The good news is that there are ways to manage stress so that we can function and be successful.
1. PLAN: It’s no surprise that you have final exams. Make a written plan or commit a plan with a study partner to get ready for exams. You know what study habits work best for you, but no one does well cramming at the last minute. Look at the dates for your exams and create a list or timeline of the things you need to get done. If you need help, like tutoring or accommodations, ask for it!
2. PRIORITIZE: We know exams are important, but they shouldn’t take over your life. In your plan, don’t knock everything to the bottom of your priority list. Include the normal activities you do to help with stress! Make time to exercise, eat healthy, get enough sleep, and yes, even find time to have some fun. Those things may not rank as high on your list as they normally would, but don’t make them your last priority.
3. PRACTICE: Especially if you have test anxiety, consider reaching out to you professor or TA for a practice test. Or ask someone who took the course before you what the test was like, how did they prepare for it, etc. Having as much information as possible about the upcoming stressor, helps to manage stress reactions.
4. POSITIVE PEP-TALK: Telling yourself that this exam is going to be impossible or that you’re going to fail is not helpful for stress management. Pay attention to your thoughts and stop the negative ones. Replace them with positive, realistic statements. If getting an A on the exam is not realistic, say instead that you will pass the exam. Encourage your friends to do the same, lessening the negative talk you’re hearing even more. Even if you are confident about passing, listening to friends who are constantly negative can increase your stress. Allow yourself to create the positive space you need, even if it means taking a break from talking with some family and friends.
5. (be) PRESENT: You’ve spent hours studying and the exam is finally here! Don’t freak out. Look over the entire exam before starting and think about how much time you will need. Answer the questions you feel most confident about first. Stay until the end of the time period in case you remember information that is important. Review your answers before you leave. High anxiety can cause us to forget things so remember to breathe, relax, and be present.
Very best wishes for a successful end of the year from the Counseling Team at the Women’s Center.