Tips & Resources

7 Tips for Students to Head Off Stress During Final Exam Season

In final exam seasons, many university students feel stress and anxiety in a way that affects their academic achievement. Al-Fanar Media offers seven tips that can help you maintain a high degree of concentration and relieve the fear of final exams.

1- Sleep Well.

The first step to making the most of your time is to organise your sleep. Your body needs seven to nine hours of sleep each day. Make sure you get enough sleep. This will help you better memorise your lessons and keep a clear mind. When some students resort to staying up late and spending long hours reading their textbooks, they end up with an unpleasant result: loss of concentration.

If you compare the end result of staying up late, you will find that it is much less beneficial than what you could earn if you had a good sleep at night.

Consider the Arabic saying, “He who reaches for the heights passes countless sleepless nights”, or the exercise motto “no pain, no gain”, and realise that these are metaphors for expressing seriousness and diligence, not literally staying up all night.

In his book “Why We Sleep”, Matthew Walker, a professor of neuroscience and psychology at the University of California, Berkeley, says that sleep before learning something new refreshes your ability to make new memories, while sleep after learning helps you save new memories and prevent forgetting.

(See a related article from Al-Fanar Media: “What Science Says About Getting Good Sleep”.)

2- Eat foods that stimulate memory and increase energy.

The first step to making the most of your time is to organise your sleep. Your body needs 7 to 9 hours of sleep each day. Make sure you get enough sleep. This will help you memorise your lessons with a clear mind.

Making sure to have a healthy breakfast is good advice every day. It is even more important and necessary when exam season comes. Alex Richardson, a researcher at the University of Oxford, said that research shows that students who have breakfast perform better on exams. Richardson recommends having protein rich foods at breakfast, such as milk, yogurt, and eggs, because they keep you feeling full for a longer period.

Avoid having fried foods, because they need a long time to be digested, which causes your body to lose its energy. Beware of consuming energy drinks to boost your activity, because such drinks give you a high dose of caffeine and sugar for a time, but after a while your blood sugar drops and you lose your energy.

Be sure to have foods that stimulate memory and increase focus, such as fatty fish rich in omega-3 fatty acids, as well as berries, nuts, and avocados.

3- Set a Plan for Exams.

When the exam date approaches, you should start making a study plan. Make a table with the days left for you to study, up to the last day of the exams. Distribute the study subjects on the table. Allocate an appropriate amount of time for each subject, according to your estimation of how difficult it is.

It may happen that you don’t stick to the plan for one reason or another, but beware of getting into a vicious cycle of frustration, and a sense of failure. This is likely to happen. Tweak the plan a bit, and finish what you started with the same enthusiasm.

(See a related article from Al-Fanar Media: “9 Steps to Create a Successful Self-Learning Plan”.)

4- Reward Yourself.

Remove all unnecessary mobile apps, and make use of those that help you organise your time. You can search for such apps using keywords like “time management”.

When you study a specific subject, break it into smaller parts. Reward yourself when you finish each part. According to a 2017 study, every time you hit a small goal, your body releases a dose of dopamine that keeps you going, because your body craves that feeling of satisfaction. Make the reward something simple and accessible, if only to raise a fist in victory, or put a checkmark in front of each lesson or lecture you have finished.

5- Train Yourself for Exams.

Look at sample questions or previous years’ exams. Take the sample exam. Hide all books and references away. Put only the question paper in front of you, allocate a time similar to that of the actual exam, and test your ability to solve the exam on time. Once you complete the exam, review your answers and match them with the correct answers. Learn what you got correct or wrong. This experience will increase your confidence in solving exams and help you get rid of excessive anxiety and stress.

6- Don’t Waste Your Time.

We live in the era of distraction. Companies, brands, and social media platforms are competing for your attention all the time. A lot of notifications from different apps on your phone will lead to your mind getting distracted. Remove all unnecessary apps, and make use of those that help you better organise your time. You can search for such apps using keywords like “time management”.

7- Set Times for Rest and Recreation.

When you set a study plan, don’t fool yourself by dedicating all of your time to study. Make sure to get periods of rest, and do some recreational activities, even if only for a short period. Go out for a walk, take a few minutes outdoors, or listen to music you love. Setting aside time for activities unrelated to studies will help you release stress and finish what you started with a clear mind.

(See a related article from Al-Fanar Media: “Tips for Students: How to Cope with Exam Stress.)

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