Friday, December 6, 2013

Common Sense for Exams

When we are in the thick of things, it is sometimes easy to lose our common sense and work off of emotion and stress alone.  So here are some practical tips for exam takers:

  • When you lose focus, become more active in your studying: read aloud, ask yourself questions about what you are reading, switch study tasks, or discuss the material with another student. 
  • If you focus does not improve by being more active in your study approach, take a break from studying and come back to it fresh.  10 - 15 minutes every couple of hours works for most students.  If you have been studying for a longer period of time, take a longer break.
  • If you hit a wall and cannot absorb anything else no matter what you do, then it is definitely time to walk away for some time.  Perhaps go run and then have a meal.  Or go to the cinema and lose yourself in a good movie.  Or window shop to take your mind off things. 
  • If even one of these diversionary breaks does not help you re-focus, then your brain and body may be telling you to stop and go to bed early.  Get up the next day and start over.
  • Stop listening to the exaggerations, outlandish claims, and scare tactics disseminated by other students.  Do the best you can do each day and ignore all the stress-mongers.
  • After an exam is over, do not talk about it with others.  You are likely to stress over what you think you missed; others are often wrong about issues on the exam.  Put the exam behind you and mentally focus on any exams still ahead.  You cannot change what is already done, so put your efforts on the exams that you can impact.
  • If you get sick, go to the doctor.  Putting off medical attention has negative consequences: you infect others, you get even more ill, you delay your serious illness until the middle of exams.
  • If you have a meltdown, go to the counseling center.  Do not just sit around and be miserable.  You need to talk with someone who can help you handle your stress and be more objective. 
  • Come up with an appropriate reward system for small, medium, and large tasks.  Enjoy a cup of green tea for completing a small task.  Take a 30-minute walk for finishing a medium task.  Go out to dinner with friends for completing a large task.  Set the rewards that will have meaning for you. 
  • Eat balanced, nutritious meals so that your brain has the fuel necessary for exam heavy-lifting.  Avoid junk food, sugary treats, and overdoses on caffeine.  Get those fruits, vegetables, lean meat, and whole grains!
  • Keep a regular sleep schedule with 7-8 hours of sleep each night during the exam period.  Minimal sleep and all-nighters are a sure way to arrive at an exam too tired to think.  If your exams are early morning ones and you are a night owl, begin the change over in your body clock now so that you are able to wake up and be alert for that early exam.  If you tend to sleep poorly the night before an exam, then go to bed even earlier for the week prior to your exam and stockpile some ZZZZZs.

Good luck on exams to everyone.  (Amy Jarmon)

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