Beat Exam Stress

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Beat Exam Stress

By Aisling Sampson

We’ve all been there; you’ve prepared for your exam, but your mind goes blank the second you open the exam book. Your stress levels rise making thinking harder, and now you’re further stressed expecting disaster. Don’t waste your hard effort of preparing for your exams by pushing yourself past your limit on the exam day. Multiple studies show that too much worry or arousal reduces your performance so use these tips to set you up for success before your exam.

Easily Avoided Pre-Exam Stress Triggers

  • Arriving Late - Rushing in late is guaranteed to pump your stress levels. There are always going to be TTC or highway traffic issues, so aim to arrive at least an hour before your exam. You’ll have time for a snack and the washroom so you can start in top form.
  • The Wrong Room, or Building - If the location is new to you, take a moment a few days before to check the location — Queen’s emails locations a few weeks in advance. If you don’t live in the same city that you are taking your proctored exam in, then google map it and find it on street view. If you do live reasonably close to your exam location, then drop by and check it out – you might even find a good spot for breakfast!
  • The Wrong Time – another reason to arrive 60 mins early. There is nothing sadder than watching another student arrive at 1:30 pm to be “early” for their 2:00 pm exam, only to find the exam actually started at 1:00 pm. Being thrown for a loop knocks you off your game.
  • Can I borrow a pencil? – I’ve lent people pencils, and I’ve realized that I packed everything except my pencil case and had to buy new gear when I got to the exam location (at least I had time). Most proctors have some supplies for these situations, but the shock to the system adds stress.
  • Have a standard “exam pack” – I have a large clear bag for under my chair that has all the exam “extras” tissues, Advil or sinus meds (only 1 or 2 in the bubble pockets) and extra reading glasses live in it all the time.

Most people are nervous while writing exams, that is perfectly normal.  But if you can set yourself up for success by keeping your stress at an optimal level, then you are ahead of the game.  Stay tuned for stress-busting tips during the exam, and whatever you do, don’t stress about being stressed!