Staying Calm on Test DayChen Wan Lim
Even with all the studying, revising and early preparation, examinations can be stressful. According to the Mayo Clinic, anxiety can cause forgetfulness and difficulty in concentrating. Staying calm before and during the examination can make a difference with your scores and grades. These are eight ways to stay calm on test day:
Getting enough sleep
Numerous studies have shown that sleep is important for many positive reasons. One study in particular by researchers at Binghamton University noted that “people who go to bed later, or sleep less, have pessimistic thoughts that seem to repeat in their minds, which they feel unable to control. They also tend to worry excessively about the future, delve too much into the past, and experience annoying intrusive thoughts, mirroring the symptoms of people with anxiety and depression”. As such, be sure to sleep early and get adequate rest before test day.
Have your breakfast
Like a marathon, exams are meant to test your endurance and understanding of a topic under the constraint of time. And like your body, your brains need food to stay focus and to deliver during stressful times. Be sure to eat healthy and light before the exam. Numerous studies have shown that protein-rich foods which can lead to greater mental alertness which can make a difference between an ‘A’ grade and a ‘B’ grade. Eating right and well could save you from the agony of a growling stomach.
Make it a point to arrive early on test day as it is one of the best ways to remain calm. You would want to arrive to the examination venue early and perhaps listen to some relaxing music on your iPhone. The last thing you want happening a few minutes before the test starts is scrambling around looking for the exam venue, forgetting your identification card, bringing in the wrong calculator and not properly dressed as per the university code.
Have faith and trust in yourself
Stay optimistic and trust in yourself. Stay convinced that you have done your part in revising and that you have attempted all the past year examination questions to the best of your ability. Walk into the exam hall confidently and trust that you will do well in your exam. Michael F. Scheier, a psychologist at Carnegie-Mellon University in Pittsburgh, has found that optimists handle stress better than do pessimists.
Follow all the instructions carefully
Before you start attempting the questions, take a brief moment by reading through the instructions. There are possibilities that you will not need to answer all questions and that you have the choice to choose the questions you want to answer. Also, some questions involving numbers would require you to show and explain the steps taken to arrive at the answer. As such, even if you do not get the right answers, you might get points for showing the correct steps.
Don’t rush it
When attempting a question, take your time and read through each sentence carefully. Do not rush through the question but rather, properly understand the requirements of each question before penning the answers. Maintaining a calm composure when internalising the question will save you time by not having to reread the question.
Low hanging fruits
If you encounter a tough question or a question which you are unsure off, stay calm and just move on to the next question. Attempting the easy questions first will help maintain your calm composure. After you have attempted all the easy questions, move on to the ones you are unfamiliar with. Even if you are unable to answer the tough questions, you would have at least answered the easy ones.
Take short breaks after every question
Do not plough through one question after the next. After finishing one question, take a brief moment to draw in deep breaths and to rest your hand and eyes. You can lightly massage your hands or rub your shoulders. But do not take too long of a rest or fall asleep.