The College Girl’s Guide to Managing Stress During an Exam

I’m the first to admit that I struggle with managing my stress during an exam. Do I really know the material? This test is worth 45% of my grade, will I pass? Why does it sound like the girl next to me is talking about a different subject entirely when mentioning what she studied? Did I remember my calculator? Wait…was section 2 supposed to be on this test? While all of that just covers my pre-exam jitters, I’ve finally found the best ways for me to manage exam stress. Today, I’m sharing with you how I’m kicking exam stress.

Don’t think about how others are doing on the exam.

My biggest weakness before taking an exam was always listening into classmate’s discussions about what they had studied. Typically, it just led to me questioning if I had studied the right information and truly knew the material that was being covered, which only meant that I would panic. Then when you open your exam, don’t concentrate on how that person is doing on the exam. Who knows, they could just talk the talk and not really know the information. But no matter what they know, how they are doing on the exam doesn’t matter. The only thing you need to be thinking about during your test is your test.

Breathe. Take a deep breath.

I hope I’m not the only one that has the horrible habit of holding my breath when I open my exam and read through it. Heck, I even hold my breath when working out a problem. It’s a horrible habit and I’m still working towards overcoming it, but I’ve made progress in the fact that now I know it’s okay to stop every once and a while and take a moment to remind myself to breath. Just by implementing this tip I feel my stress level go down. My shoulders relax, the knot in my chest goes away, and my mind clears up. It’s been a wonderful thing for me to learn and I’m sure it will be a great one for you as well.

Read through the exam.

As soon as your professor gives you permission to begin your exam, open it up and read through it. Read the questions, skim through the answers, and know what portions the exam covers. Once you’ve read through it, take a deep breath and start. If you end up with extra time at the end of your exam, read through your exam again only this time go over your answers. If I’m reading over my math tests I always review my work and recalculate answers so I know I’ve done it right. On tests that use a scantron I read through the test and make sure my answers match up, double check that all of the circles are all the way filled in, and then see if I erased everything fully if I messed up on an answer.

Do the problems you know first.

For some reason during my freshman year of college it got into my mind that I had to go through a test from front cover to back cover without going back to any problems later on. That method only made me more anxious if I didn’t know how to do it right off the top of my head because I had to dwell on it. Finally, I learned that it’s completely okay to skip around your test. By doing this I get a confidence boost by knowing I did well on the topics I was strong in and can go back to questions I skipped with equal confidence because I didn’t dwell on them for too long feeling like I messed something up.

Don’t rush.

I’ve always been worried about messing up on timing during a test and feared that I won’t have enough time to do everything so I rush through it. I’m still working on this one and always have to remind myself to slow down. In fact, I often write “slow down!” at the top of each page of my test because I need the visual reminder. Seeing that written on the top of my page definitely helps me to slow down and concentrate on taking my time on problems.

Ask for a clock to be running if you need it.

Asking for a clock or timer to be projected onto the board is never a bad thing. Many people get anxious thinking that they will take too much time on several problems and not have enough time to complete their exam. Having a clock that is visible is a major tool in helping you manage your time and essentially schedule how you will complete problems as needed.

Have all of your test taking materials ready to go.

Something that causes me anxiety going into a test is if I have all of the materials needed to do my test. If it’s a math test, then I always have to double check that I have at least two pencils, an eraser, my calculator, and my formula book. It might seem like something silly to stress over before a test, I always double check to make sure everything is in my backpack so it’s ready for test day.

How do you manage stress during an exam? Are you planning to use any of these tips? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!