Exam Stress [by Annabel May]

Jan 12, 2021

Annabel May is currently undertaking a Level 3 Business Administration Apprenticeship at New Schools Network. 

Mock exam season is here! As last year emphasised, mock exams are more important than ever and consequently the level of stress therefore is increased. For numerous students with the increased uncertainty about the grading system and whether or not exams will be sat, this further puts a strain on the lives of many. Having just sat my mock exams at home I know that the experience is somewhat isolating and not being able to physically walk out of an exam hall can therefore mean that the stress of an exam can loom for quite some time after, inevitably making a work and home life balance rather disproportionate. 


Throughout this piece, I have written about some ways that have really helped me personally reduce the level of stress I face around exams. 


A revision timetable: This by no means suggests that you should make an intricate excel spreadsheet with every minute of your day taken up. Something I find is that if another commitment arises, it can lead to the feeling of failure and disappointment. When I make a revision timetable, I ensure that the working time frame is realistic and ALWAYS give yourself breaks. I hate to admit that I have before revised all night and thought ‘wow I have got so much done’ but then due to sleep deprivation the side effects include mood changes, trouble thinking, memory issues, weight gain, weakened immunity etc, which is never ideal when revising.


Different techniques: Not everyone learns from reading a book and making notes, I certainly don’t. I have found that using Quizlet has been really helpful. This is an app that you can get on your phone to write Q-cards, within the app you can learn the cards in a multitude of ways from playing games to being tested. As cringe-worthy as it may sound, I record myself reading my notes. This is so that if you are out and have a free minute but don’t have any notes you can always listen to a certain topic. 


Past Papers: I get it - just by looking at the phrase ‘past paper’, boredom immediately springs to mind. However, by doing past papers you are able to see the style of questions that an examiner may be asking. When looking back on lost marks, I have often found that I have known the information, but an awkwardly phrased question has led me astray and has not allowed me to flaunt my knowledge to its fullest potential. 
Start early: I cannot stress this enough. Wading through all the exam information the night before is never the answer. By starting early, you can cover more content and understand the content. Also, if any questions do arise then you have time to query these questions to your lecturer rather than posing the general question ‘I don’t get it’ about the whole syllabus...I am sure that everyone can appreciate that it is rather difficult to explain vast amounts of information in such a short space of time. 

There are many more revision tools and techniques but the above are just a few that I have found useful and beneficial. It is also important to note lastly that exams are not the end of the world, and even if you think you’re not great at them, there’s always time to turn it around. For example, I was in the bottom set for maths at school and did feel unintentionally a bit rubbish about this. But going on to achieve an A in IGCSE Higher Maths in year 11 proves that you can always turn things around and achieve the results that you desire.


Good Luck!


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