With exam season approaching, some students will be feeling increasingly uncomfortable, while others may appear unfazed and annoyingly calm. Shelly Asquith is vice president for welfare at the National Union of Students (NUS) and firmly believes that exam confidence comes with good well-being.
She says that while it may not be about feeling confident in yourself, trusting your intuition and knowing that you can do the work is key. This may be easier said than done, so we look at how students can manage exam anxiety and cope with the pressure.
Remember you are not alone
Don’t forget to talk to people! You won’t be the only person feeling this way so it can be helpful to talk to fellow classmates and lecturers who can share their stories.
Katrina Wigzell, 29, is in her final year and studying nutrition at London Metropolitan University. She explains how she actually enjoys the pressure of exams and she understands that she works better when recognising her nerves. She says, “If I attend my lectures and do a bit of revision, there is no reason why I shouldn’t feel confident enough to sit the exam.”
Ask for help
If you are feeling anxious or worried about your upcoming exams, ask people for help and advice. They may not be able to do the exam for you, but helping you manage the feelings and keep you laughing can be a great way to cope. Shelly says how she believes confidence comes through knowing you have good friends and a strong support network.
“It is also about having access to certain services. If you are suffering from a mental health problem, there are options available to get extenuating circumstances.”
Many schools, colleges and universities have counselling services and these can be very helpful when you are feeling stressed.
If you are inspired by the topic, you will likely feel more enthusiastic about the exam. Feeling excited about it will also mean that you are more inclined to focus. If a topic fascinates you, choose it – do you research and fuel your enthusiasm.
It can also help to prioritise what is the most important and what can be left aside. When you are suffering from exam stress, it can be easy to push your revision aside and get caught up in your social distractions. Sometimes your priority needs to be your exams and your future, so be mindful of when you need to take a time out and refocus.
In terms of last minute panic, a moment of meditation can help you stay calm. While a little bit of stress is good for you, letting it overwhelm you will not help in the exam hall. When you’re about to go into the exam, take a moment to breathe slowly and really focus on your breath. Stretch it out and go in with confidence.