Here we are again… Exam Season.
Right when we start to make plans for our wonderful summer break, we face one last hurdle for the semester.
Multiple choice, essays, fill-in-theblank…we know the drill.
It can be difficult to plan, especially when the very idea of a final exam may be anxiety provoking.
We all begin to get out our calculators to find the number that gives us that 89.5 %.
But there are other things we can do!
We can learn techniques and strategies to triumph over that test and get ready for the summer that awaits.
Some of the most common of these strategies can be remembered by using the following acronyms before, during, and after exams:
BEFORE – E.M.B.E.D. the material
Manage your time so that you study areas you are less familiar with. Finding time specifically for studying will also help with procrastination and distractions.
There are many different ways to memorize material you’ve learned during the semester. Besides acronyms, you can use writing and repetition, flash cards, or using your imagination to create a link between the material and a particular visualized image.
“Whether you think you can or you think you can’t, you’re probably right.” Perhaps use a morale-boosting mantra like “I can do this” or “I worked hard and deserve this” to recite while you’re studying and before the test begins.
Even during intense study sessions, it is important to consider your health. Eat a nutritious breakfast before the test and pack smart snacks for ongoing energy. Look for foods that offer complex carbohydrates, rather than simple sugars that will lead to a crash.
Get a good night’s rest! You will retain more information with a full night’s sleep as opposed to staying up and cramming all night.
DURING – Push A.H.E.A.D.
Don’t rush through! Read the directions thoroughly and read all answers before making a choice or beginning the essay. There is nothing worse than putting time into a question and realizing you are not solving for x, or the essay is off target. Slowing down can help you stay focused.
If you find yourself becoming frustrated, take a breath and relax. Repeat your mantra or picture yourself in an environment where you feel very relaxed and happy.
Arrive early to your testing location! Feeling rushed will only amp up the anxiety. Pack everything you need for the exam the night before and set the alarm so you can leave on time.
Again, there’s no rush! Just because you see that first person turn their test in, doesn’t mean there’s need to panic. There’s no bonus for finishing first, so take your time to articulate your answers on an essay or make notes to help answer a multiple choice question.
Just because the test starts with #1 does not mean that has to be your starting point. Familiarize yourself with the test content after you receive it, and don’t be afraid to skip questions and come back to them later. Determining your best strategy can help you not only manage your allotted time, but it may even help jog your memory for previous questions!
AFTER – Go to B.E.D.
Take time to relax! The test is over! Specifically, you may want to use our previously introduced method of: “5 second inhale, 5 second hold, 5 second exhale.” You can repeat this as many times as you need to feel calm and relaxed.
Even after the test is over, it is important to keep an optimistic outlook and envision success over failure. Many students can get anxious about certain responses they did or did not write, but remember that you studied and tried your best. Now it’s time to envision the grade you hoped for!
After receiving your grade, it may be helpful to debrief and consider what sections of the test you excelled on, and which you may need to work on in the future. This is also a good time to reflect on the effectiveness of your strategies while you were taking the test.
To get some more tips and learn about coping with exams and test anxiety, please join us at our “How to Prepare Like a Panther” event taking place on Wednesday, April 17th from 7:00-8:30pm in Evans Hall, Room 202.
Test anxiety is a common experience, and sometimes it can seem like your whole semester of work comes down to a single exam.
Remember, when you study and prepare, test taking is putting to paper what you already know.
We hope this article guides you Panthers in your studying endeavors and helps you triumph over this final trial!