5 Tips To Reduce Anxiety Before Exams at Boarding School
At boarding school your knowledge is going to be tested along the way to help yourself and teachers understand what you have learnt and as a way to build up core skills and prepare you for further education. Whilst the tests may be beneficial, whether they are small ones during the week or more important ones during exam season, they can make you feel a bit worried or anxious… especially if you’ve struggled with past tests. So, here are a few tips to help reduce your anxiety before exams at boarding school.
1. PLAN, PRACTICE, REVISE
One of the reasons you may feel stressed about exams and tests at boarding school is because you're worried about failing your test. This might be because of a previous bad experience with a test or you may feel you don’t understand the topic enough. This can make you feel like you’re going to fail again and create a knot in your stomach. So how can you avoid this?
One way to sit down and write out a structure plan. Decide how your answer will be laid out and what key information will go into each paragraph. Base this plan around practice papers (which teachers usually provide!) and keep practising and memorising them. Then at the start of the exam jot this plan down straight away and adjust it for your real question. This helps so much during exams, especially if you’ve forgotten anything whilst writing.
One thing that can be daunting about exams is not knowing what will come up. But there is a solution to this! There are plenty of exam past papers online for you to look at and practice. These past papers can give you an idea of how the exam will look, what type of questions they will ask, and how much information you need to provide to get a good mark.
Obviously, and most importantly, get revising! Don’t leave revision to the last minute. Set some times aside per day to revise information from different subjects at boarding school. This will help to reinforce the information and help you to understand it clearly, which helps to take a lot of pressure off if you actually understand the topic!
If you are struggling with a subject, speak to your teacher. Teachers are there to help you with your education. Let them know what information you are struggling with and they’ll spend some time going over the area with you. They might also provide you with some helpful resources to make the information easier to understand, such as videos or books to read.
They may also be able to put you at ease over your exam plan structure. Bring your exam plan structure with you and ask them to critique it, for instance if there is any key information you should add or if you have the right amount of words for each section. They can then let you know where you need to improve for a good mark!
*Remember not to bring in your whole finished work though, most teachers will only critique a plan.
3. EAT RIGHT, SLEEP WELL, AND EXERCISE
When exam season peeks around the corner, our personal well-being tends to take less priority. Instead of eating a healthy diet and getting plenty of sleep and regular exercise, we swap it out for cramming in revision whilst eating junk food and revising long into the night. This takes a toll on our body and mind, reducing our health and leaving us with plenty of illnesses and feeling stressed and anxious.
The benefit of boarding school is they will provide you with plenty of good food choices (including plenty of veg and fruit!). Try to avoid stress eating unhealthy foods and make time to enjoy some exercise after school, whether this is going for a walk or meeting up for a sports club. This will help keep away any bugs and illnesses and keep your body and mind fresh and renewed.
As well as this, try to get 6-8 hours of sleep. We need sleep to think clearly and it helps with our memory, which is great during revision. It also gives us clarity and perspective. When we are overly tired, we tend to get more stressed and anxious about things as our sleep deprived minds can't handle it.
4. STUDENT ADVISORS
Anxiety can get the best of us. It’s horrible feeling anxious and stressed over tests and exams. If you are feeling this way, don’t lock yourself away and keep these feelings to yourself. Make sure to book an appointment with your student advisor.
Student advisors are great at providing advice to help you during this season and help with specific issues. They may also be able to help provide some tips to help keep up good mental health during this time and alleviate any stress you are feeling.
One of the things we tend to forget when it’s exam season, or if a test is coming up, is to relax. We’re so busy revising and planning that we forget to just simply relax and give our body and mind some time to unwind.
Find the balance between revision and relaxing. If you don't do any revision and solely focus on relaxing, you probably will fail your exams. But if you spend too much time revising and writing coursework with no relaxation, you'll end up burned-out. So try to find that balance, maybe this means spending some hours revising and doing coursework during the day and then relaxing in the evening. Find what works for you and go with that.
6. FINAL PIECE OF ADVICE
Our final bit of advice to students at boarding school is to just try your best. Tests and exams are there to help you understand where you're struggling and how much you’ve learnt. Whether you pass or fail your next test doesn’t determine who you are.
At the end of the day, all you can do is try your best. We wish all of you good luck with your studies! You've got this!