Exam Stress

Exam Stress


It’s that time of year when we see students prepare and write their exams.  Students have a lot of pressure to pass their exams, especially our senior high students as they apply for college and university.  It can be difficult as a parent to see our children struggle with school, even more so if we see that they are stressed out.

Stress is a normal part of life and motivate us to prepare for major events or activities, it helps us to respond to dangerous or emergency situations, and helps our body adjust to situations.  However, long-term stress and how we hand stress can be very harmful.

What can I do to help me through Exam Stress??

As a student, there are ways for you to prepare for exams and alleviate some of the stress of taking an exam.

  1. Prepare: If your school offers an Exam Anxiety Course at your school take it!! It will provide tips and strategies to get organized, get prepared and develop strategies to calm yourself before, during and after your exam!!! Ask the teacher for exam prep tips.
  2. Create a Schedule – schedule your day to help break down what needs to be down and to help you to organize your time so you are not overloaded with too many activities and not enough time to do everything.  A great tool is your school agenda.  It has spaces for assignments, schedules and some tips for studying.
  3. The first day of class is the beginning of your studying.  Cramming is not a healthy way to study and chances are you won’t remember everything.
  4. Figure out when and where you study best.  Are you most awake and ready in the morning or evening? Do you have a special place that helps you concentrate (ex: Library, bedroom, etc)? Do you need music or do you like the quiet?
  5. Limit distractions: turn off your phone, TV, electronics when studying.  If you do like music choose music without words as you will tend to listen to the words not what you are reading.

What does health have to do with studying??

Your mental health is important when it comes to studying and in order to help our mental health we also need to look at healthy habits in all areas.

  1. Eat Healthy Foods! Junk food makes us tired and we will not be at our best.  Eat fruits and vegetables.  You will have more energy and be able to focus.
  2. Drink Water!  Many students and adults will turn to coffee or energy drinks due to feeling tired during exams, when in fact caffeine may be adding to the exhaustion.  It makes us more anxious, makes it harder for you to sleep and affects our ability to focus.
  3. Exercise! Exercise will help you clear your mind, relax you by reducing stress and help you focus.  Instead of watching TV during a study break, get up and go for a run or walk. You will find that you are able to focus more on what you are studying.  Also instead of cramming just before your exam, go for a quick run or walk instead!
  4. Sleep!  Sleep is so important and often students will stay up all night studying rather than sleeping prior to their exam.  If you are tired going into your exam, you ability to process information or retrieve what you study will be limited.  Find a way to relax yourself prior to going to bed and get a good night sleep!!

What if I get stressed out during the exam?

For some students, writing the exam can be very stressful.  Not knowing the answers or feeling like your mind is blank when you get the exam is not unusual.  So how do you calm yourself and refocus?  What strategies can you use on exam day?

  1. Bring what you need for the exam.  Make sure to have a pen and pencil and bring an extra as a backup.
  2. Eat prior to the exam.  You may feel like your not hungry due to nerves, however, eating a nutritious meal will give you energy and help you focus…it will also save you from embarrassing and distracting tummy growls!
  3. You remember more than you may think.  If you feel you mind is blank, close your eyes and take a few deep breaths to calm your nerves.  Read through the entire exam prior to writing it because other questions may trigger your memory.
  4. Slow down.  Read the entire question.  Often missed marks are due to not fully understanding or reading the question.
  5. Move on!  If you get stuck on a question, move on to the next question.  You may find the answer in another question or simply moving on.  When you are done go back and answer any questions you skipped.  This allows you to take the time you need to answer the questions you didn’t understand, but also allows you to answer all the questions you know.

For more detailed information regarding Exam Stress check out the Exam Stress Brochure from AHS.  Attached to this page.

 How do I know if my child is experience Exam Stress or if it is more serious?

If you child’s stress is beginning to interfere with everyday life, such as, missing school/events/activities, withdrawing from social interactions, is not eating or sleeping, and/or withdraws/avoids the exam.  We recommend you seek out further help for your child.  Each school in the Prairie Land Regional Division #25 has Family Resource Workers who can help your child.  Your school will have information on how to contact your FRW.  If you are not part of our division ask your school if you have a Family School Liaison Worker or Counselors in your school.  You can also access Mental Health or call Health Link Alberta : 1-866-408-LINK(5465).

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