Exams – Tips for less stress and success


With exams coming up you might want some advice and tips from the University experts on dealing with exams and stress – see below.

USYD Learning Centre: (Information courtesy of: sydney.edu.au/stuserv/learning_centre/help/exams/exams.shtml

I want some help managing my time to study for exams.

  • It usually helps to make a detailed plan for the time between now and your exam.
  • Make your plan as accurate as possible. Remember to include the time you need for transport, eating, family, work, sleep, etc.

Update your plan each day.

  • Find out as soon as possible what topics you need to study, and work out how much time you have for each topic before the exam.
  • At the end of each time you study, look at your plan and consider what you have achieved. Before you leave your desk, make a list for what you will need to cover the next time you sit down to study.

Here are some tips for using your time efficiently:

  • If you can, choose the best time to study when you are naturally alert and focussed. For example, if you are a ‘morning person’, don’t try to study late at night.
  • Before each task, remind yourself of its specific purpose. For example, do you really need to read the whole chapter, or do you just need to check the paragraph about one particular topic?
  • If you lose concentration while you are reading or studying, stop. Think about how this paragraph fits into the big picture. Is it important?
  • Skim-read every article or book chapter before you read it in full. That is, first read the title, abstract, introduction, headings/topic sentences and conclusion. What is the main topic and purpose of this article, book, chapter or section?
  • How does this fit into the big picture of what you are learning?
  • If you find that you are procrastinating (e.g. spending your time on things which are a low priority), stop and deal with it immediately.

I want some help managing stress, anxiety or nervousness about exams.

The first way to reduce any stress, anxiety or nervousness about exams is to be prepared.

  • Find out as early as possible what topics will be included in the exam.
  • Also find out as early as possible what the type and conditions of the exam are (e.g. How long? Where? Open book?
  • Essay questions, short answers or multiple choice?)
  • Make a plan for revision of the important topics, early in the semester.
  • Look at some exam papers from previous years and practise writing answers.
  • You can look for past exam papers in the library. You can also ask your lecturer and the office of your faculty, school and/or department.
  • There are also a number of strategies you can use to boost your confidence and calm.
  • Discuss the exam with other students beforehand, including any worries, but also the topics that you feel confident about.
  • Lower the stress hormones in your body through physical exercise.
  • Familiarise yourself with the environment of the exam.
  • Remind yourself of the positive points: e.g. You have successfully completed other exams before, and you have prepared for this, so this exam will probably be OK too.
  • On the day of the exam, wear something you feel good in, and take along helpful things, such as a water bottle and your favourite pen.

Remember though if you have any have any problems before, in or after the exams feel free to consult with a SRC Caseworker – call 9660 5222 for an appointment.
Also be aware that the SRC can loan you a calculator if you forget or just don’t have one for your exam – come down to the SRC at level 1 of the Wentworth Building

CAPS Exam Anxiety Management workshop

The Counselling Service (CAPS) is running a workshop on Exam Anxiety Management – Learn practical strategies for coping with exam and performance anxiety on Wednesaday 4th June, 1 – 2pm.
If you would like to attend the workshop please arrive at the CAPS reception (Level 5, Jane Foss Russell Building) 10 minutes prior to the start of the workshop.

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