Keeping Calm and Focussed At Exam Time

This week many of our students are taking part in tests and exams. Whether it’s NAPLAN or SACs, this can be a challenging time for both students and their families, some of whom will be experiencing anxiety and stress.

While a few butterflies in the tummy is a normal response that can assist our performance, there are a few ways to keep some of the more negative emotions around exams in check.

andrew-johnson-relaxation image

(copyright Andrew Johnson)

5 tips to get keep you calm and focussed

    1. Get plenty of rest

The brain relies on some downtime to recharge for the challenges ahead. Staying up to do extra revision isn’t a good idea, and resting doesn’t just mean getting a good night’s sleep, but also putting away those screens!

2. Exercise

Get the blood pumping to the brain by getting outside and taking in some fresh air. Even going for a walk can clear the mind and reduce anxious feelings.

3. Remember to breathe

This sounds silly doesn’t it? Often during anxious moments we ‘hold our breath’ and shallow breathe. One trick is to practise 7/11 breathing. Close your eyes and breathe in for the count of 7, then slowly exhale to the count of 11. Do this a few times and you’ll feel calmer. Alternatively, try listening to a relaxation app. Andrew Johnston has a good one here. (Andrew is a renowned expert in the field of relaxation and mindfulness.)

4. Eat properly

This means not skipping meals and eating a well-balanced diet with lots of veggies! You can find a list of brain-boosting foods here.

5. Keep a sense of proportion.

This is an important one! You are more than your test result. Ensure you have prepared and revised fully for your test, but don’t be disheartened if you don’t achieve the result you want. Use it as an opportunity to see where your weaknesses are ready for next time. (See our post on growth mind-set)

We asked some of our teaching staff for their tips on coping at exam time.

Matt Brinson (Head of Senior School) says:

Study in short, productive 20-30 min bursts (without distraction!) then take a mental and physical timeout for 15 minutes then repeat. Information will be learned and consolidated to memory more efficiently and more meaningfully.

Kirsty Watts (Academic Dean of Technology) says:

To avoid panic setting in and to get a good night sleep the night before an exam, start studying and preparing as soon as you know when your test or exam is going to be.

 Good Luck!