Exams are pretty much always stressful. But it’s completely possible to manage some of the stress that’s brought on by exams if you use different strategies. If there’s stuff you’re not strong on, or you’re really stressed out, there are people who can help you.
Although there is no known magic cure for test anxiety, here are simple techniques to reduce stress and actually make you do better at the nursing exams. Here they are:
- Don’t cram. One of the biggest contributing factors to test anxiety is cramming. Prepare for the upcoming exam ahead of time. Do not wait for the eleventh hour before opening your review materials. And study smart. Lack of preparation is a problem that may negatively affect your test performance.
- Plot a calendar of study topics. Make a list of the most important topics you need to cover, in order of importance. Organize them properly by estimating how much time each item will take and how much hours of study you have left.
- Get plenty of rest. I am not saying that you sleep all your way to your exams. All you have to do is sleep for the recommended 6-8 hours a day. Studies reveal that a person who rests less, especially before the exam, will more likely have mental blocks than those who have had enough time of sleep.
- Eat healthy. Eat nuts, vegetables, and fruits to help sharpen your memory. Eating the right amount and type of food will also help your body systems work in proper order and reduce the risk of sickness. On the day of the exam itself, don’t skip a meal and eat nutritious food.
- Arrive 20-30 minutes before the test. While running late for an exam is never advisable, arriving too early is not encouraged either. Being at the test location 2 hours before the exam will only build up your anxiety. You might just hear other students saying how unprepared they are.
- Breathe. It might sound funny, but some people forget to breathe properly while taking an exam. Deep breaths are one of the easiest relaxation techniques that can help you overcome stress. Sit straight but comfortably then breathe in through the nose and breathe out through the mouth. Taking three to five deep breaths can make a big difference.
- Think success. While doing deep breathing exercises, think of positive thoughts. With statements like “I have the ability to top this exam” or “The questions are familiar,” you can create an atmosphere that is relaxing.
- Reward yourself. After the test, do not dwell on the mistakes you might have committed. Instead, free your mind and reward yourself for doing a good job.
“You’ve survived final exams before, and you’ll survive them this time too,” says Dorsey. “If you’re feeling nervous when you sit down to take the test, take three slow, steady breaths. Remind yourself that you’ve been getting ready for these tests all year long.”
Apart from the previous techniques there are other tips you should follow in order to increase the effectiveness of studying for your exams.
Make sure that you are sitting in a comfortable place, with adequate lighting and no noise. In one of my articles about stress I explained how such external factors can prevent you from concentrating while studying and thus reduce the effectiveness of your studying methods.
Another extremely important studying tip is to make sure that information is being stored in your long term memory and not your short term memory. By writing what you studied or by studying it over and over again you will make sure that the information was stored in your long term memory.