Dealing with Exam-Anxiety

Do you know that even students with Einstein-challenging Intelligence Quotients catch the exam-anxiety fever? It is a feeling that has nothing to do with being dull. As a matter of fact, I don’t believe anyone is dull, everyone is good at something if you search deep enough.


This month of May is the dreaded Exam  month. I know this because I am surrounded by people getting set to face the music. Just yesterday I went into the room of my happy-go-lucky-kitchen-expert flatmate. To my amusement, she had taken her mattress off its queen-sized bed frame and settled it on the floor. I asked her what this was about, and her response was “EXAM”. Textbooks of different shapes and volumes were sprawled across her pillow, and a poorly balanced reading lamp stood at attention, ready to snap on at its owner’s flip of the switch.

I laughed. I laughed because I could very well relate to her story. I have never been a night-reader. No matter how hard I tried to put myself in a position of discomfort so as not to sleep the night away, I still managed to find that cozy body posture (even if my head hung from the bedpost) that would usher me into wonderland 🙂 What worked for me as an undergraduate was that I understood my body clock and always tried to make the most of my day time. Now that I have advanced in a few more years, I have better control over studying at night as well, lol(I don’t exactly have a choice).

I have decided to share the little I know on exam preparations and getting rid of the fever. I want to emphasise the little I know because no one really knows it all when it comes to school examinations. Besides, whatever I say here would be relative to the context of your environment.

Preparing for examinations is a personal experience, and what worked for me may or may not necessarily work for you in like manner. However, I will endeavour to keep the tips as general and overarching as possible.

Note that I come from the humanities and social sciences background and this would influence the tips I offer.

Understand yourself: Take a little time to study yourself and identify your most productive period of the day. Is your brain at its sharpest in the morning, noon-time or night time when everywhere is as silent as a graveyard? Does listening to music while reading aid or distract you? How easily distracted are you? What can you do to improve your attention span? Just understand yourself.

Understand your tutor: I always say smart students can glean examination questions off the tutor if they pay the required attention in class. No tutor wants to a sea of F grades on his or her course at the end of the semester, so he/she would teach what would be asked in the exam hall. Truants shall not partake of this blessing. To quell the fever, always say to yourself that the questions will be things you already know.

Kill procrastination: Exam fever is almost always a result of lack of preparation. Lack of preparation happens when you leave the bulk of your reading to the last minute. For this set of people (the procrastinators) I have no help to offer you but my prayers. Don’t leave your reading till the last minute. Everyday after each lecture, dedicate about an hour (minimum) to peruse your notes and meditate. If possible, set mock questions for yourself from it and keep it aside.

Media, Mass Comm., Journalism Students keep abreast with the news: The last thing you want to happen to you in the exam hall is to be faced with a question on Osama Bin Laden’s death and you have not the faintest idea of who he is. Tutors in these departments more often than not directly refer to news items in their questions, or expect you to use news events as cited examples in your exam script. Either way, wouldn’t you feel good about yourself if you were defining Agenda-Setting Theory and using the recent Royal Wedding as an example? Aces!

Have a good night’s rest the day before you paper: Whether you are in the sciences, business or wherever, this applies to everyone. Sleep well before the D-Day no matter how ill-prepared. It is counter-productive not to be fully rested before entering the hall. You want to feel refreshed, clean and confident as you show that tutor the stuff you are made of.

Others: It goes without saying that no hangovers, excessive partying or road tripping during exam period. You want to be sane, cool, calm and collected. Eat well and get some exercise. If you are an avid fiction reader like me, feel free to pick a short story in between papers to relax your mind. For guys, you may indulge in a little PS game to relax – iStress a little. Examination period is not the time to start Gossip Girl Season 7.

Please feel free to drop any extra tips in dealing with exam-anxiety and prepping for papers. I appreciate your comments.

Wishing all exam-writing readers the best this season!

Media Junkie

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3 thoughts on “Dealing with Exam-Anxiety

  1. weng says:

    Thanks Tomi, exactly the encouragement i wanted!!

  2. […] Dealing with Exam-Anxiety ( […]

  3. plwilksy says:

    Surround yourself with understanding people. Ensure your parents/friends are aware that you have a tendency to become anxious around exam times in order to receive a positive response from them.

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