How to prepare and build your confidence ahead of exam time
As we approach Week 8, you’ll probably be starting to think about any online exams you’ve got coming up for T2/S2. Exams are an opportunity to show what you know and should make you feel energised to perform at your best. But in reality, you might be feeling anxious. This is normal – most people experience some degree of anxiety when faced with an exam.
What’s important is learning to manage your anxiety in a productive way.
Research indicates that mild levels of anxiety can improve alertness and provide the burst of energy needed to get through demanding situations, which will help you perform well in an exam situation. However, too much anxiety can be debilitating; it might affect your concentration and memory or cause you to panic.
So, a small amount of anxiety together with confidence is the key. We’ve put together some information that will help you develop techniques to improve your confidence and to manage your nerves.
- Due to current physical distancing restrictions, there will be no venue-based exams scheduled for your Trimester 2/Semester 2 units. Instead, your unit sites will be updated with an online final assessment or exam task. It’s very important to check your exam timetable and each unit site individually (as requirements will vary for each unit).
- A good study routine and adequate preparation are essential factors in becoming confident for final assessments and exams. Nothing can replace being well prepared.
- Ensure a balanced lifestyle with leisure activities built into your timetable, such as exercise, socialising and hobbies. Make sure you get adequate sleep and eat well.
- Learn to think positively and challenge your negative thoughts about your ability to perform in exams. Our website has information on how to do this.
- Introduce relaxation exercises into your daily routine. By practising relaxation you can develop a strong relaxation response to counteract the physical symptoms associated with excessive anxiety. Try the simple ones on our website such as breathing, muscle tensing and relaxing and visualisation. The more you practice, the easier it will be to relax during your exam.
- The Study Support team recently held an online ‘Preparing for exams’ session – you can view this presentation on Bb Collaborate. The session recording has been broken into chapters so you can easily access the advice you wish to focus on to succeed in your online exams.
In the lead-up to your exam
- Familiarise yourself with the general Deakin exam rules and procedures to avoid surprises on the day.
- Don’t cram. Spend the evening before your exam reading your notes, planning your schedule, setting up your computer and the area you’ll sit in for exam day, doing some exercise and getting a good night’s sleep.
- On the day, make sure you leave yourself enough time before your exam to have a good meal. Bring some water with you and sit down at your desk with plenty of time to settle in before you begin.
- Consider missing your usual coffee which might increase your anxiety – try a non-caffeinated beverage instead such as herbal tea or juice.
During your exam
- When you sit down to begin your final online assessment or exam, repeat one of the relaxation techniques you’ve been practising.
- If you’re feeling your anxiety increase before or during your exam, close your eyes, take a comfortable deep breath and then let the air out slowly and quietly. As you breathe out, say the word ‘relax’ to yourself. You can also allow your hands and arms to dangle at your sides and imagine the tension flowing out through your fingertips.
- Stretching your body, flexing and relaxing your finger muscles and changing your posture are all ways to promote blood flow and take your mind off your anxiety.
- If you find your mind going blank during the exam, or you are having trouble concentrating, try this quick exercise. Look at something in the room where you’re sitting, like a chair or a clock. Study it in minute detail: look at the colour, texture, shape and particular markings. Do this for approximately 3-5 minutes, and then return to your exam.
The student website has more in-depth information about building your exam confidence, as well as more general exam preparation information, including tips for different types of exam formats and questions. If you need more help with preparing for exams, you can book an appointment with a Language and Learning Adviser or with a Deakin counsellor.