How to Stay Confident and Calm During Finals This Year
The end of the school year is notoriously stressful. Finishing up projects, studying for finals and trying not to freak out about exams can be extremely difficult. It's hard to maintain confidence when everyone around you is stressing and the pressure is at an all time high. The past two weeks I have spent the better half of my time helping my clients who are students feel mentally prepared for success during these trying times.
Whether your a high school student, college co-ed or heading to take your graduate exams, there are many ways to feel confident and secure during your final few weeks at school. Instead of all-nighters, caffeine-related hangovers and pushing yourself to exhaustion, here are a few ways to help you stay sane towards the end of the semester.
Test Taking Tips: Get Honest with Yourself to Stay Confident
1. Get honest about what you need. I used to go through my study guides and mindlessly read over things that were troublesome, but never admit to myself I needed more time to learn or study the material. Just this week a client in an intense math class did the same thing. As we went over her study guide together she said "Actually, I don't know that equation at all, I need to get some help on that." If you're not sure about the information now, it won't magically come to you when your in a timed test.
2. Make a schedule. Use colors and write out the days of the week starting from this moment. Pick a colored pen to represent due dates, a different color for exams and another color for meetings or other school-related activities. Then, prioritize what needs to be started now and what can be pushed to later in the day or week. It will give you a sense of control.
3. Get honest about your schedule. "I'll just spend all day in the library," one of my clients who suffers from attention-deficit/hyperactivity told me (ADHD and Exams: Test Taking Strategies for ADHD Students). While that sounds great, lets be honest, there is no possible way she is going to stay focused for the whole day. Structure is your friend, especially during stressful times. Making a schedule with allotted times to study will help. We went through her to-do list and estimated how much time she needed for each.
Here's what she came up with as a schedule:
- 10:00-12:00 English essay
- 12:00-12:30 Eat lunch
- 12:30-2:30 Review History, finish study guide
- 2:30-3:30 Make History flash cards
- 3:30-4:00 Take a break, get a snack, go outside
- 4:00-6:00 Finish English essay
- 6:00-7:00 Review History flash cards
4. Get honest about your priorities. Your anxiety and ego want to focus on fear and things that are unrelated to your finals. (Should I wear this outfit next week? Maybe I should pack my dorm now, etc.) Don't give into the noise that distracts you. Make a note of what it says, like, "pack dorm later," and look at it when you have time, not right now.
5. Get honest about your environment. An anxious and very distracted young man said that he can study in his dorm or the library but coffee shops are too distracting. However, he often was less productive, more likely to procrastinate and often stayed up later when he attempted to study from his comfortable abode. After getting honest and trying out a community table in the library he noted, "I actually was more motivated there; I saw other people studying so I felt the need to do it too." Now he uses his dorm for sleeping, not studying.
Do's and Don'ts During Finals This Year
Do eat often. Don't fill up on crummy vending machine snacks; do make sure you are eating good foods every 3-4 hours that have protein, carbohydrates and a good fat. This is fuel for your focus, after four hours your blood sugar and brain chemistry start to fade.
Don't over do it on the caffeine. The anxiety you feel about the exam will only be amplified if you are filling it up with coffee and soft drinks. Plus getting a good night's sleep (which is needed for fueling your focus) is hindered when you are chugging late in the day. Try and avoid the urge and drink water or decaffeinated tea instead.
Do shut your brain off before bed. There is this anxiety-driven myth that if you stuff your brain full of the knowledge at night then you'll totally remember it in the morning. Nope, your brain is tired, your body is tired and most of the info is going in one ear and out the other. Take 90 minutes before bed to put your books in your bag for tomorrow, shut off your computer and try and chill out so your brain can reboot for tomorrow. Waking up early and getting a productive start to your day will make you feel more prepared and your brain will be in tip top shape to remember the important information.
Do think positively. "I'm gonna fail." "I suck at this." "Everyone told me this was going to be hard." These thoughts are not serving you, in fact, if you walk into an exam or sit down in front of your keyboard with the mindset that you're going to do badly, you probably will. Instead fill your mind with positive phrases:
- "I got this, I studied for hours and did well on my practice exam."
- "My teacher gave me a good grade last time; I'm sure she will this time too."
- "I am going to do well."
- "I am going to do the best that I can."
Good luck guys!
Take Good Care.
Emily is the author of Express Yourself: A Teen Girls Guide to Speaking Up and Being Who You Are.You can visit Emily’s Guidance Girl website. You can also find her on Facebook, Google+ and Twitter.
Roberts, E. (2014, May 8). How to Stay Confident and Calm During Finals This Year, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2020, December 1 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/buildingselfesteem/2014/05/how-to-stay-confident-and-calm-during-finals-this-year