Many students feel anxious because they have to face exams, but there are also students who feel very afraid. There are several ways to overcome anxiety and increase self-confidence when facing exams. In addition to preparing yourself as well as possible and doing mental and physical relaxation, you can also ask for support from others. This will make you more confident when taking the exam because you have done all the necessary preparations.
Part 1 of 3: Preparing to Take the Exam
Step 1. Make a study schedule
Don't put off studying until the last second. Allow a few days or weeks before the exam by making a schedule. For example, make a commitment to study for an hour every day after school for the week before an exam.
- By making a schedule, learning activities will not be disturbed by other activities.
- Take 45 minutes each time you study. We tend to have difficulty concentrating if we continue to study for more than 45 minutes. Therefore, take a break every hour to make it easier to concentrate.
- If the material to be studied is quite a lot, learn it little by little. Instead of studying all the material at once, divide the material by topic to make it easier for you to concentrate. Take advantage of each session to study material on a specific topic.
Step 2. Prepare study aids
Choose aids according to your preferred test material and learning style, for example using card-shaped notes, creating reading outlines, schedules, charts, and doing practice questions.
- Create a one-page summary of key ideas, formulas, or methods as a tool. Summarizing is an efficient way of studying because you can identify important information that you should know. If during the exam you are allowed to open a book, the summary is useful as a guide for finding answers in notes or other textbooks.
- Pay attention to the learning style that works for you when creating study aids. For example, if you find it easier to learn visually, you will find it easier to memorize information by making diagrams or using a “donkey bridge.”
Step 3. Prepare for the exam you are about to take
Before starting to study, make sure first the form of the exam questions, whether later you will be asked to make an essay or answer multiple choice because you have to prepare yourself in a different way.
- If you are going to take a school-administered exam, rework the previous year's exam questions to familiarize yourself with the exam format and deadlines. For the national exam, practice answering the questions in the exam book collection.
- If you have to answer in essay form, make it a habit to write essays while studying. This method helps you to complete the essay in the allotted time.
- If you have a lot of material to memorize, you may not be able to remember everything the first time you learn, so memorize it over and over little by little.
Step 4. Complete the exam kit the day before
Make sure you have everything you need, for example: pencils, pens, calculators, notes to be ready to take the exam and that you can sleep well tonight to prevent anxiety when taking the exam the next day.
- If you need to use a calculator or other electronic device, check the battery and/or bring a spare battery.
- Know what you are allowed to bring, such as snacks or textbooks if you are allowed to open books during the exam.
Part 2 of 3: Overcoming Anxiety Due to Exams
Step 1. Think positively.
Scientific research shows that expectations can affect performance. If your expectation is to pass the exam, you'll still have to study, but if you think you're going to fail, studying alone may not be enough to pass the exam.
- Give yourself positive affirmations as a way to change your mindset so that your thoughts are focused on positive things and eliminate negative thoughts. For example, remind yourself that you are ready to take the exam because you have studied hard.
- Challenge the negative thoughts that arise. For example, if you think that you will fail for life if you don't pass a test, tell yourself that this is not true. Replace these thoughts with more appropriate thoughts, for example: a bad grade will keep you from passing a test, but it won't keep you from failing for the rest of your life.
- If you're having a hard time getting rid of negative thoughts, distract yourself with humor. Watch funny comedy films or TV shows, read joke books or humorous comics. You can also recall funny stories you know.
Step 2. Improve your mindset
Remember that test scores are not a determinant of a person's success or failure. Even very important exams, such as the bar exam (to become a lawyer) can be repeated if you don't pass.
- Research shows that mild anxiety can improve performance. Remind yourself that controlled anxiety makes you more alert and energized.
- To deal with anxiety at the start of the exam, read all the exam questions first. Look for “easy” questions to answer that can be found easily if you are prepared. Working on questions that you already know the answer to is a way of reminding yourself that you have mastered the material being tested.
Step 3. Visualize your success
While studying, imagine that you are taking an exam and confidently answering questions. Imagine you get the test scores you want. Visualization isn't a substitute for learning, but it can make you more confident and improve your performance.
Visualization is very useful because it makes your brain and body react as if you have experienced what you imagined. When visualizing, the brain will form and strengthen the relationship between the activity you do with the result and in this case between the test and success
Step 4. Calm your body
Fear will trigger adrenaline that makes our bodies ready to face danger. Your heart rate and breathing rate increase, your body trembles, sweats, and/or feels dizzy. You can think more clearly and feel more confident by working to deal with these physical reactions. If you're feeling anxious about taking an exam, use some self-soothing techniques such as the following:
- Breathe deeply. Breathing exercises make you feel more relaxed. Breathe calmly using your abdominal muscles. Set the rhythm of the breath by inhaling and exhaling at the same time.
- Do stretches. You can get the benefits of stretching without doing yoga regularly. Stretch your arms above your head and back to relax tense shoulders. Performing forward bends while standing can relieve back and neck tension.
- Do muscle relaxation. You may not even notice that you have a muscle strain. Do a body scan to find out which muscles are tense by observing certain body parts for a few seconds starting at the toes and then working your way up to the top of your head.
- On foot. Moving your body is one way to clear your mind, but focus your attention on your surroundings. Don't walk around worrying about exams!
Step 5. Eat before taking the exam
Make sure you eat breakfast 1-2 hours before the test. Choose protein snacks and don't eat sugar because the energy boost will quickly run out before the exam is over.
- Eat snacks even if you feel nauseous, such as crackers or toast to fill your stomach.
- Don't drink caffeine or energy drinks as they will only make you more anxious.
Step 6. You should get a good night's sleep before the test
Based on research, students who got enough sleep the night before the exam got better grades than students who studied all night.
If the exam is held day or night and you're still not getting enough sleep, take some time to rest first. Research shows that sleeping less than an hour can increase alertness, memory skills, creativity, productivity, improve mood, and reduce stress
Part 3 of 3: Supporting Exam Success
Step 1. Ask a question
Don't just rely on textbooks and notes. If there's anything you want to know, ask your teacher, parent, or tutor. Knowing answers from reliable sources makes you more confident.
- Do not forget to ask the teacher about the material to be tested. For example, ask if the exam questions will be taken from homework, reading assignments, and/or discussions in class.
- If you don't understand a certain topic, ask the librarian for help in finding other books for information.
Step 2. Form a study group
Make sure you form a group with friends who really want to learn. You will feel more confident when you study with other students as this ensures that you are studying the correct test material and understand better.
- Invite students with different ability levels to join study groups. Students can learn by teaching other students.
- Group members will find it helpful to exchange notes. Students usually record different information while following the lesson. Combining and checking the correctness of material from other students makes you believe that you are studying the material to be tested.
Step 3. Rely on the support of others in the support group
Friends and family may not be able to teach you calculus or French, but they can help you feel more confident.
- Ask if someone in the support group would listen to you explain the material to be tested. You need to have a good understanding of the concepts that you are going to explain to people who don't quite understand them. If you can explain the theory of gravity or the history of the collapse of the Majapahit kingdom to your grandmother, it will give you confidence that you have mastered the test material well.
- Friends and family members are ready to help you with other support. For example, if you tend to have a hard time waking up, even when your alarm is ringing, ask a support group member to call you to make sure you're awake.