Tips to beat EXAM anxiety

Exam anxiety is a universal problem faced by every student before every exam ever. It’s not a very good feeling and one would want to avoid feeling anxious especially before an important exam.

“Before starting my math exam, I was so consumed by anxiety that I couldn’t even remember what date it was.” –Me during my 12th board exam.

You’re prepared for your final term. You studied everything you possibly could, you didn’t leave out any chapter and you’re thorough with each probable question. But then these little monsters called Anxiety start creeping in and you find your confidence hitting an all time low. You feel butterflies in your stomach or rather the entire zoo, your palms get sweaty, you feel nauseous or worst case scenario pukish. Exam anxiety is a universal problem faced by every student before every exam ever. It’s not a very good feeling and one would want to avoid feeling anxious especially before an important exam. The fear of making mistakes, forgetting formulas, not being able to complete the paper are all too common. It happens to the best of us.

A study suggests that people who are highly anxious tend to perform worse even though they’re well prepared. The good news is you can very well fight anxiety. It’s curable to say the least.

Below are a few tips that might come in handy next time you take an exam:

  • Sleep, Sleep, Sleep: A well rested brain is able to function better. The whole idea of pulling an all nighter does no justice to your mind and body. Never compromise your sleep especially before an exam. You’d rather remember what you’ve learnt instead of staying up late and cramming your brain with information you will most likely forget. A good 6 hours sleep is a must.
  • Breakfast: I cannot stress how important it is to have proper, healthy breakfast before you leave for school/college. Get up early walk around  a little and treat yourself with food that is rich in fibre and carbohydrate. This gives the body the energy it requires. Losing out on energy leads to lower concentration levels which means you might start to panic and that’s exactly what we’re trying to avoid, right? Go eat that apple.
  • Don’t discuss: I remember studying every chapter before my geography exam and the morning before the paper, I started discussing it with a friend. My confidence which was high at that point of time was ruthlessly shattered in a few minutes because I wasn’t able to recall the answers to some of the questions asked by my friend. Note that it wasn’t because I didn’t remember but because  I got too overwhelmed which led to delay in recall. This lead to even more anxiety. Moral of the story is there is no need to discuss anything when you reach school/college unless there’s something important. Keep to yourself and try to take deep breaths and relax.
  • Revising: The most common mistake I made and I observe most students make is trying to revise everything the morning before the exam. It is a very daunting task, takes a lot of time and is intimidating. Failure to cover all chapters leaves you with a sinking feeling thereby leading to doubt and worry. Instead while you’re studying( a day or week before the said paper) make notes of all the important points. Just a brief summary of the chapter in your own words. This method has two advantages, a.) It helps in easy memorization, b.) You have your own notes prepared and it’s a lot easier to go through them by just looking at the points.
  • Be prepared: Here I am talking about being well equipped with the stationary you will require during the exam. You wouldn’t want  be to panic because you don’t have a pen that works. It will not only cause more anxiety and stress but you will lose out on a lot of time.Always keep an extra pair, just to be sure. Bonus points if you keep everything ready the night before. This avoids unnecessary stress in the morning.  It is also very important to reach your school/college early. For those who have different study centres, it is imperative that you take a field trip to figure out where your classroom is. This will help you to familiarise yourself with the classroom setting and your brain will be well rested.
  • Set realistic goals: While it is important to set high expectations of yourself , it is equally important to be realistic about it. This doesn’t mean you should not expect a good score but that things might not always go your way. Building castles in the air seldom takes you anywhere. You cannot expect 100% result every time. All that matters is that you gave your best shot. Don’t think about getting a 98 or 100 but about doing better than what you did. Remember, one test won’t alter your life. By having a clear mindset, you will be able to study better.

 

Some other tips you should remember:

  • Write down your anxieties. Studies have shown that those who write down their insecurities performed better than those who didn’t. For every negative trait, write a positive one.
  • Listen to music that is soothing and calming. You can do this while you’re on your way to school/college. Music always makes me relax. Keep reading the notes you’ve prepared while simultaneously listening to soft music. It really helps.
  • While in the middle of writing the exam, attempt questions you’re most confident about. This gives you the boost that you need. Then proceed towards questions that you find hard or tricky. Also, since you don’t have forever to complete the paper, don’t waste too much time on one question.
  • Avoid getting distracted by the person sitting next to you who is writing ten times as fast as you are and who just asked for another sheet of paper. It’s okay. Maybe she has a train to catch, you never know. Concentrate on your work.
  • Take breaks if you get too worked up. Close your eyes and try to calm down.  Think about things that help you relax. Think about your pet waiting for you at home, or think about how much you’re going to sleep once you reach home. Learn to de-stress.
  • Give your best. Don’t let anxiety take all the credit.

 

Do you have any tips to beat anxiety? Comment below!

How NOT to procrastinate

Procrastination sticks to us like bees on a beehive. However, it is not impossible to over-come procrastination. You just have to persevere and be patient with yourself.

We’ve all been there. The dread , the unapologetic behaviour, the anxiety and mental stress of delaying what’s to be done. Procrastination or putting off of things to be completed later is something we’re all too familiar with. Whether it is studying after an hour which turns into an entire month till you reach the deadline and decide to die instead or living with constant guilt of producing a below average work. It’s okay. It only goes to show you’re human. But don’t you think fighting off procrastination is better than a shitty assignment? Well, thought so.

In this post, I’m going to talk about some tips that have worked with me in eliminating procrastination. These suggestions, however, are very subjective. You might find it useful or they might not work for you. But there’s no harm in trying, right?

  1. Identify your triggers: Maybe the reason you’re procrastinating is directly related to the number of things that distract you. It can be anything and everything that draws your attention to things that are less important or even trivial. Getting rid of social media worked best for me. If you’re hungry or feeling sleepy, grab that snack or go take a nap. Just complete everything that is stopping you from opening your books. Try throwing your phone away. (No, not literally

  2. Create your own environment: Each one of us have a study style. Most are productive when they’re studying alone in a quiet room without any interruptions while some work best while listening to music. Learn when your productivity is the highest and work to create your studying space. This will prevent you from putting off studying. If my study desk is a pile of shit that I don’t require, I proceed towards getting that shit sorted. This helps me think clearly.
  3. Force yourself: Once you have eliminated all the procrastinating pit stops, you can now move ahead to the most important step. In order to brush off the shadow of procrastination, you have to push yourself into completing the task. Remember, beginnings are always the hardest. Once you stay put for 15 minutes, you will have developed a flow and you would find yourself getting the work done.
  4. Handle the monster first: This means delving right into the subject that is the most difficult to do or the thought of which is making you put off studying altogether. When I was in school, I used to dread studying mathematics which used to result in me putting off studying for hours till it was very late. Tackling the subjects you dislike or that which bore you first helps in getting it out-of-the-way. Adopting this strategy helps you in avoiding further procrastination thereby creating more time to work on other subjects as well.
  5. Divide and break down: This means breaking down your work in different sections to avoid getting overwhelmed by the huge chunk of black and white information. Breaking down helps us to concentrate and focus more while dividing assists in compressing the content and making it easier to grasp. If you’ve broken your chapters into little parts and it still isn’t helping, shorten it even more. Keep doing it till studying doesn’t intimidate you (even if you study only a page, it’s a win). Also, always study for 30 minutes and then take a break. This helps in retention.
  6. Treat yourself OR don’t: It is essential to focus on what you will do once you complete the set task. This might be enjoying a bar of chocolate after completing a chapter or going with friends for a movie or even using social media for an hour without any guilt. Bargaining with oneself makes us look forward to the outcome more than the process of doing it. This is called positive reinforcement. Similarly, if you, for instance, manage to complete your essay, you will not do the dishes or make your bed. Negative reinforcements sometimes work very well in completing the task.  If reinforcements don’t work, then try punishment as a method. Take away something you look forward to if you’re unable to complete that essay like not using social media for more than 15 minutes or staying at home for the weekend. Talk to yourself and make deals. See what works best for you.
  7. Set Goals: Having a dream or an ambition often motivates us to get the work done. Goals make us more productive because we’re determined to achieve them. It can be as simple as getting a good grade in your history paper or getting selected for a debate at school/college. Anything that excites you even a tiny bit to get out of bed. Although following up is important. You have to walk the talk. You cannot expect to be a good sports person if you spend all your time being a couch potato.

 

 

There are a few other things you should keep in mind: 

  • Don’t be too hard on yourself. If you’ve procrastinated to a point of no return, don’t fret. Just let it go and make tomorrow more productive.
  • Do not wait for the right time to get the work done. Now is as good a time as any.
  • Try not to be a perfectionist. Most of the time it is essential to finish the job rather than putting your energy on tiny details to make it look, “perfect”.  You can always go back and brush up on the details once you get everything else done. Sometimes, just sometimes, quantity matters more than quality.
  • Get a study  buddy. Nothing is more motivating than a friend who is in as deep a shit as you. This way both of you can cry tears of joy and pain and ultimately push each other to study.
  • Work hard. Nothing in the world comes free and you definitely don’t want procrastination to be your biggest regret.

 

 

I hope the above post was of some help to you. What are the different ways in which you beat procrastination? Comment below so that I can know about them, too!

9 Study tips to ace your exams

DISCLAIMER:  Before I begin, I’d like to make it clear that I’m no expert or know-it-all when it comes to effective studying but the following are a few tips or hacks that helped me during my university exams in college. If you’re someone who studies at the last-minute, then keep on reading! Also, all the tips are very subjective. Some might work for you, others may end up being a total fail.  It all depends on the kind of learner you are. 

 

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First things first, it is extremely important that you don’t panic. I understand that’s not possible but stressing out makes it all the more difficult. You have to take an exam in 2 days and you haven’t started studying or even worse you don’t even know what’s in the syllabus. So what? Try to relax , take a few deep breaths and forget about what “could” happen. Focus on the task in hand which is figuring out what you have to study.

 

  • Stop Procrastinating: STUDY. KEEP YOUR PHONE DOWN AND STUDY. It’s crunch time and you hardly have any time left. You should understand that you’ve wasted your entire year on TV shows and eating  and now is the time to get your act together.

 

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  • Study smartly: If you’re a Calcutta University student, you’d be familiar with the pressure and load that the syllabus entrails. Do not get intimidated and be practical. It is not humanly possible to study everything (unless you have a photographic memory then why are you even reading this?). Choose the topics that you think are important. Usually the professors inform you of the chapters that are more significant than the others. If you’ve accidentally paid attention in class then brownie points for you! If you didn’t, like most of us, then figure out what needs to be tackled first.

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  • Study Partner: Having a friend or a study partner or a study group makes studying a lot more easier ( I wouldn’t say fun because let’s face it you have an exam in two days). If you’re stuck, your friend can always help you understand the topic in a better way. I realized this worked best for me because I knew I wasn’t alone and also constant motivation and break from rigorous studying.  Here’s a little picture for motivation 😉

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  • Refer to previous years’ question papers: One of the most essential studying tips is referring to past years’ question papers. Understanding the question pattern is half the battle won and looking back on earlier questions gives you a decent idea of what the probable questions can be. I’m sure you did this for your board exams back in school so just continue with this tradition.  I’d suggest looking back at last 5 years’ questions.

 

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  • Understand more, cram less: Mugging everything from the page number to the index of your book without understanding is NOT going to fetch you marks, leave alone getting good grades. Cramming is an ineffective study method. You’re not a parrot who is to repeat everything in exact form. Try to grasp the content that you’re seeing, make your own interpretations and remember the key points. It not only saves time but helps you broaden your mind about the subject. If you’ve understood the topic well, you can write.

 

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  • Time Management: The most common pre-exam mistake we all make is studying for hours at a stretch. Stop it right away. Take a topic, study for an hour at first. Try to finish majority of the portion in that one hour. After that, take a break of say 5-10 minutes and then continue again. Start another topic, study for an hour and take a break. The break helps you retain what you have learnt and allows your memory to take in more. It is essential to stick to your time schedule. You learn faster and retain better. Remember the break should not be more than ten minutes. (Utlilise your break by checking every social media possible because social obligations)

 

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  • Write and Learn: I’m aware that writing and learning a few days before exams is impractical but it has helped me immensely. I’m a visual learner and I prefer jotting down everything I’ve learnt. Writing down what you’ve studied means putting down all the key points from your memory. I think it’s a great exercise as you find out how much you’ve learnt and at the same time you have effective notes prepared that you can leaf through on the big day!

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  • Mnemonics: “A system such as a pattern of letters, ideas, or associations which assists in remembering something.” What am I even talking about? Well, Mnemonics means associating things to a particular pattern or events or names that assists in memorizing better. It improves memory. If there are sub-points that you need to remember but are having difficulty retaining then you can associate them to an event in your life or any pattern. Let’s take an example:

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