- Create a routine. Every night before an exam, after I’ve put my books away and am ready to go to bed, I take part in a self-care routine. I brush my hair, braid it back, wash my face, put lotion on my legs and apply lipbalm. In the morning I do something similar. The familiarity of the routine comforts me and relaxes my nerves by removing some of the uncertainty surrounding the test.
- Get there on time. Arrive for the test with ample time so you have a few minutes to settle in and calm yourself down. Being late will make you frantic and worried, which doesn’t help anyone.
- Make yourself as comfortable as you can possibly be. Eat a healthy, filling breakfast in the morning, use the restroom and carry a jacket. You don’t want to be distracted by things like hunger or being too cold. Focus all your energy on answering the paper.
- If you need to, talk to others. A lot of people tell you not to learn anything/cram right before the test, but between me and you, I’ve had to write entire answers based on what people have told me in the five minutes before we started writing. Let’s face it, there are going to be people that know things you don’t. If learning more from others at this point is going to stress you out, then avoid it. But if there is valuable stuff to be learned and it doesn’t, don’t be turned off.
D U R I N G
- Now’s the time to change something. I know I talked a lot about routine, but a weird little trick that helped me in my finals last semester was wearing my hair down all day, and then putting it up right before I started writing. It kind of felt like an alter-ego, and I pretended to be confident af, which brings me to my next point.
- PUMP YOURSELF UP. This is literally so important. The entire time, keep up a stream of mental affirmations. Be your biggest cheerleader. I got an entire 100 points higher on the SAT than I expected (I’m not even kidding) because I just kept telling myself how prepared I was and how well I was doing. Don’t let anything knock you off your game.
- Do the easy questions first. You’ll have the leftover time to sit and work through the harder questions, and if you spend too much time on them, at least you’ll have some easy points under your belt.
- Don’t worry about what other people are doing. Enough said.
- Always check your answers. Try solving questions in a different way or working backwards to make sure your answers are correct. If you’re writing an essay, read it aloud in your head to catch any grammatical mistakes or spelling errors.
A F T E R
- Discuss answers with others if you like, but don’t get too stressed. Sometimes the affirmation that you’ve written the correct answers can do wonders, but sometimes it backfires if you realise you’ve written something completely different than everyone else. Keep in mind that although a lot of people wrote the same answer, it’s not necessarily correct. Dwelling on this can affect your performance in later exams.
- Go celebrate! The stress is over, stop worrying- there’s nothing you can do about it now. Might as well go out and treat yourself :)