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How to Stay Calm during Exams Week

Most college students panic before an exam. Some stress is good and gets your adrenaline pumping. But too much stress–especially unwarranted stress–can be bad for your body and for your grades.

Study tips, study plans, dorm room exercises, and even diet can help relieve anxiety. Here are eight college tips to help you stay calm during your exams.

1. Prepare for your exam in advance

Learn ahead of time where the exam will be held. Ask your teacher what material will be on the test, what you should study, how the test will be graded and how much it counts toward your overall class grade. Find out what supplies you need or are allowed to have with you during the test. Have all your material and research at hand when you’re ready to study. Prepare a strategy so you don’t waste time studying the wrong material.

2. Study efficiently

  • “Choose a quiet place to study and make sure you are not interrupted or distracted.”
  • “Make sure you take regular breaks while you study. Keep your mind fresh and don’t try to cram every little piece of information in at once.”
  • “Stay motivated, relaxed and focused while you study.”
  • “Don’t stress if you feel overwhelmed. It’s natural to feel like this. Take a break or go for a quick 10 minute walk.”

3. Go easy on the caffeine and Red Bull

A little bit of stimulant keeps you attentive, but too much will actually increase your anxiety and harm your body. You want to be alert, not a quivering basket case. Pace yourself, and make sure you’re eating something healthy every four hours.

4. Eat healthy

“Eating healthy is always better for your body and brain than eating foods saturated with sugar and carbs, but during finals week try to eat clean too! This means try really hard to eat only natural, fresh foods with zero chemicals and preservatives. … Your body will feel and run better and you will have a lot more energy than you would otherwise.”

5. Practice the power of positive thinking

  • “I have done my best, even if I feel I could have revised more, feeling this way is normal.”
  • “I will be okay, whatever happens, this exam will not be the only defining point in my life, I can only do my best and accept the result.”
  • “I do not need to be defined simply by how successful I am in an exam, there is more to me than that.”

Control your fear by repeating these phrases. If you think the worst, the worst may actually happen. So why risk it?

6. Get plenty of sleep

Sure, cramming for exams and sleeping are diametrically opposed. But they shouldn’t be. When you sleep for at least 6 hours after studying material, your brain remembers it much better. The information you studied percolates in your brain overnight so it can be retrieved for the test.

7. Get some exercise

Go for a run, play some hoops with your friends, do yoga in your dorm room – do some form of exercise. This physical stress on your body actually relieves emotional stress, tension and anxiety.

8. Treat yourself

The day before the test, treat yourself to something – a special food, a small purchase, a call to a friend, a walk by the pond or listening to a favorite song. This emotional pick-me-up will tell yourself you are special and worthwhile, and that the test is not the end of the world.


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