There is no substitute for preparation when it comes to university exams but even a well-prepared student can experience test anxiety or approach an exam inefficiently. Try these tips from How to Get Good Grades at a College or University: Canadian Edition by Linda O'Brien. (We have copies of that booklet available in non-COVID times.)
Manage Test Anxiety
A little stress before an exam is okay because it improves alertness and concentration but if you feel like your anxiety is at the point that muddles your thinking or makes it impossible to sit through an exam, these suggestions may help:
- Sleep well the night before. Staying up all night studying before the exam is not your best option. Your physical brain needs sleep so that your mind can function at full capacity.
- Some students like to visualize themselves going into the classroom, sitting down to take the test, and doing well on the exam.
- Adopt a positive posture when entering the exam room. Chin up, deep breath, and a little positive self-talk can help your confidence
- Relaxation techniques
- Mindful breathing in through the nose and out through the mouth. When we get nervous our muscles get tense and our breathing becomes shallow. Focus on rhythmic breathing until you relax. Blood flowing to the brain is a good thing!
- Physical stretches or light exercise before the exam can be very helpful. A brisk walk and some shoulder rolls will do. If you have time for a yoga class before the test, go for it.
- Sitting at the exam table, close your eyes and recall a positive memory or imagine some warm sunshine on your skin.
- Put it all in perspective. Your exams are important but they are not a life and death situation. Your life will go on whether you ace the test or struggle with it. Try to focus on the learning opportunity, not just the result, and remember that your value as a person is not determined by any exam.