According to almost every piece of advice from medical doctors, psychiatrists, psychologists, counselors, friends and family, the best way to “bust” exam tension is to be prepared. This is one of the basic tenets of the Boy Scout code of course, but it also applies to all of our work and play. If we have enough knowledge about a subject we will naturally be less anxious about answering questions on the topic. Pre-exam tension can cause headaches and loss of sleep, giving the individual a general feeling of dread and illness.
One of the simple things we can do to help control tension is to focus on deep, regular breathing. This may only seem like a temporary solution, but it actually helps the body relax and may even slow down the racing thoughts that sometimes come to us in a tense situation.
While it may seem “silly” the advice that actor Adam Sandler gets in the comedy Happy Gilmore can also help reduce tension and clear the mind for the exam ahead. His coach and manger suggests that Gilmore should “go to your happy place” before attempting an important put. Some people have found that taking a minute or two to think of something or someone that makes us happy is a good method for “busting” tension before an exam. Those who have a more religious tendency even find that the internal conversation called praying will reduce tension.
In a more practical way, our preparation should include writing down a basic plan for the days before the exam. If we have a plan, even a timetable, that keeps us on track, we can check off the tasks as we complete them. This alone can keep an individual from worrying about getting “things” done before an exam.
Good eating habits will also make the exam less stressful, primarily because we feel tired and “drained” when we don’t’ eat properly. Getting enough sleep is always a good idea. This helps us feel more alert and helps us retain information that we will need during the examination.
But with all of the preparation and attention to detail mentioned, it is essential to take a break now and then. Resting the mind and the body at regular intervals will reduce the natural tension that comes with studying and working. If time is short (even if it is the day before the exam) remember: It is not “too late.” Put together a simple plan of three or four steps and follow them in order.
These might include:
1) Stop and take a few deep breaths
2) Get something healthy to eat, if you haven’t eaten recdently
3) Rest, even if it means lying down for a few minutes
4) Answer a few of the questions about the subject matter that will be on the exam. Then forget about them and let the mind bring them back when the time comes.
It isn’t possible to eliminate all the tension that a person feels before an important exam. But some of these simple steps will make the situation must less stressful.