Managing “Exam Meltdowns”
Dear Anxious Students,
It’s that time of year again when our academic ability is assessed and graded based on standardised tests! I know exam season comes with a whole multitude of worries for many students, like myself, especially concerning the new online exams. Speaking as someone who is no stranger to exam meltdowns and anxiety, I thought I would give you some of my favourite tips for combating online “Exam Meltdowns”. There are many different types of exams this year, so hopefully at least one of these will help you manage the season!
Tip 1: Prep… Alot
The more you plan your environment, the more prepared you are to combat any mid-exam meltdowns. It all starts the night before, make sure you have arranged your exam space: declutter, charge every device you need, have pens and paper ready, arrange notes and tabs, and finally save folders or open documents ready to type, if you need them. I love to pick out my exam study playlist ahead of time too, to keep my mood relaxed. Know your situation inside and out to minimise confusion and anxiety, and have your backup plans ready so you’re not thrown off by any unforeseen issues.
Tip 2: Managing Time Effectively
Before starting your exam, set time limits for the different stages. I like to write them out on paper and stick them in front of me. This may account for reading the questions, answering them, checking your work, and submission time. Benefits of this mean that if you get distracted, you can remind yourself you have more time than you think and slowly get ready for the next phase of your exam. Remember time always goes quicker when you start getting stressed, so take a breath and try utilise whatever time you have left.
Tip 3: Water, Water, Water
I am guilty of getting super flushed and panicking as soon as I forget something or blank on a question. The quickest way for me to snap back and focus is to drink half a glass of water. This not only gets me to take a little break, but also helps me focus on something other than my exam. You can also try things like standing up and touching your toes, or going to open a window. Essentially anything that distracts from your emotions and promotes focus. Then return to your exam and breathe nice and slowly.
Tip 4: “Brain Dumps”
Sometimes when you are given a question our brains can get quickly overwhelmed with either too much information or a complete blank. To quickly clear my mind I do a brain-dump for a minute or two. During the minute, grab a blank paper or document and write out everything that comes to mind. It doesn’t need to make sense or be full sentences, just any ideas. This is especially useful when you can’t think of any information as once you start writing, usually more ideas will start appearing from your memory. Then you can slowly start to formulate all those random thoughts and ideas into an answer for your question!
Tip 5: Remember the Basics
My last tip is to remember basic reassurances or even write them down, these are some of my favourites: Writing something is always better than nothing, even if it may seem completely wrong. Don’t worry about things you can’t remember, just write what you DO know. Taking the time to calm down is always more beneficial than freaking out because you will end up losing more time. Exams really don’t determine your success and one bad grade definitely won’t determine your career or future. And finally, remember the feeling of having submitted all your exams, nothing is as freeing as that! You can do this!
Good luck to you all,