Taking a holistic approach is the best strategy for managing stress and anxiety around HSC exam time.
Your mindset, what you eat, how active you are, and who you surround yourself with are all important factors in ensuring negative stress doesn’t get the better of you.
Your mindset can be the difference between success and failure. Henry Ford once said “whether you think you can, or think you can’t – you’re right”, and it’s a sentiment that many successful people live by. If you believe in yourself, and have faith in your ability to manage these exams successfully, this can be the tipping point between success and failure. When it comes to your HSC exams, having that positive mindset before you go into the room will help you feel at ease, think clearly and be more able to approach questions productively. Many of us struggle under pressure or the intensity of exam conditions, and can perform a lot worse than we should, given how much we actually know about the topic in question – but having the right mindset will set you off on a better pathway and ultimately ensure a greater success.
With all that in mind here are the 6 strategies for exam success
1. Visualise Success
If you have a positive attitude towards exams then you give yourself the best chance of success. One of the ways you can do this is to remember moments in past exams when you have done well. Try to remember where you were, when you experienced that success and the feeling afterwards when you knew you had succeeded. Avoid focusing on failure and remind yourself of how much preparation you have put into studying for your HSC.
2. Seek out Positive People
Surround yourself with positive people and deliberately avoid people who add to your stress levels – like that friend at school who proclaims to everyone that they are sure they’re “going to fail!” Make sure you seek out your friends who have a positive attitude to taking exams.
For parents – show empathy for the pressure that your child is under and try not to focus on results. Offer a cup of herbal tea or a healthy snack to show you’re supporting what they’re going through. Acknowledge the effort your child is showing but don’t focus on results.
3. Take regular breaks
It’s well known that our brains can’t maintain concentration for long periods so take a study break at least every hour. 45 minutes on and 15 minutes break is a common routine. And it’s well known that taking regular breaks and also exercising has the consequence of reducing stress.
3. Maintain your exercise routine
Routine is important and if exercise if a big part of your life then keep up your regular schedule as best you can, If you don’t exercise much, consider going for a walk or another short burst of activity. These moments can help clear your head and give you some time to recharge.
4. Get a good nights’ sleep
Pulling all-nighters is one of the worst things you can when studying for exams. Try to maintain regular, healthy sleep patterns so that your brain and your body are getting adequate rest both in the lead into exams and of course on the big day. There’s strong evidence to show that disrupted sleep patterns can negatively impact on exam performance.
5. Maintain perspective
While not wanting to detract from the importance of HSC exams, it’s important for students to know that this is just the start of their journey. Adults often look back many years after HSC and realise that there are many paths to achieve what you want in your career, and HSC results are not the be-all and end-all.
6. Eat healthy and stay hydrated
Getting a healthy start to the day with a nutritious breakfast is a pathway to success. Try to include fresh fruit, nuts and add some protein, such as eggs or yoghurt, which take longer to digest and make you feel full for longer.
Another way to help reduce stress is to prepare meals ahead of time and freeze them. Choose lean meat and vegetable options. Preparing early avoids the added stress of meal preparation especially if you’re short on time. There’s also the added bonus of having healthy options quickly available.
One of the best ways to maximise your focus is to stay hydrated. Even mild dehydration can lead to tiredness, headaches, reduced alertness and diminished concentration. In fact, there is strong evidence that students who drink water during exams perform better. But remember to avoid drinks that are high in sugar which will lead to spikes and troughs in your energy levels.
Seek help if there are signs that stress is getting the better of you
The Black Dog Institute reported that about 40 per cent of year 12 students report symptoms of depression, anxiety and stress that all fall outside the normal ranges. Stress during exam time can exacerbate these feelings.
For students – Try your best and treat the exams as a challenge and an opportunity to succeed.
For parents – If your child is clearly struggling then it’s not too late to seek some professional advice. A good therapist can introduce quick and effective strategies that can start having a positive effect immediately.