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exam stress

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Preparation is the key to exams

There’s so much you can do to make exam time easier. Preparation is truly the key to exam success, yet the reality is, many students leave revision until the week, or night before the exam itself.
Here are a few common strategies to help get you in the zone:

Before the exam

  • Plan out your time using a study planner or time management app.
  • Try to remove distractions so you remain focused.
  • Make notes and then make notes of notes.
  • Find out what type of exam it is and if there are past papers you can look at.
  • Check where and what your exam is and note the details.
  • Check Blackboard for notes or guides from your lecturers on what to study.
  • Eat healthily and sleep well, also try to limit your alcohol intake.
  • Exercise and look after yourself.
  • Study with friends.
  • The night before the exam – pack the things you need in your bag: pens, pencils, calculator, water, student ID, snacks and briefly look over your notes. Set an alarm and then allow yourself time to relax.
  • On the day of the exam – leave home early, take your bag, and remember to breathe.
  • During the exam

  • Read all the questions and if allowed, mark the ones you are confident answering.
  • When allowed, write down anything you can think of in bullet point form while reading the exam paper.
  • Look at how much questions are worth, allocate your time, and answer accordingly.
  • Work logically through the questions you know you can answer and then work on the remaining questions.
  • Don’t get distracted by other people. They have their own strategy for answering questions, so you shouldn’t compare yourself with them.
  • Check out QUT’s guide for preparing for exams to access more resources.

    Five apps for dealing with exam stress

    Exams coming up? For most of us the pressure of exams and final assessment submissions cause some level of stress. Stress is your response to pressure and while a small amount can be useful to keep you focused if it becomes too much exam revision can seem impossible.

    The good news is that there are so many apps out there to help deal with this intense time:

    Exam Countdown is a free app to keep track of exam and assessment dates. It provides a handy visual reminder of all your important upcoming dates. You can keep focused by easily checking how much time you’ve got to revise before you sit each exam. We love the fact that you can colour code all your exams and tests and use icons as a quick visual reference for each unit. You can also add notes to remind yourself of anything you need to bring on the day. Available on both Android and iOS.

    Mind mapping is a great study method as it helps organise your thoughts, spark your memory and come up with new ideas. With SimpleMind you can create your own mind maps, or choose one of the auto layouts and fill it in. If you like finding creative ways to revise for exams then this app is for you. The free version does plenty but the full version is reasonably priced too. Available on all platforms.

    Studies show that meditation can help you stay on task longer, switch between things less frequently and enjoy your tasks more. Headspace is a popular app, with meditations to help you through all phases of your life. The Focus pack can help you de-clutter your thoughts and sharpen your concentration, even under pressure. Try the free version or access hundreds of hours of extra content when you subscribe.

    Take a deep breath. Calm is both a call to action and a defining feature of the app’s approach to mindfulness and meditation. It’s message is simply “you’re going to get through this, and all you need to start is a moment”. There are so many new apps for meditation and mindfulness, but Calm stands out for its ease of use and attention to (soothing) detail. Try the free version on Android or iOS.

    PAUSE is based on the ancient principles of Tai Chi and mindfulness practice. When you want to shake off your stress and start relaxing, this app can work wonders. Against a backdrop of soothing music, you move your finger slowly across your screen, being careful not to speed up your pace. This triggers the body’s ‘rest and digest’ response which helps you regain focus and release stress within minutes. Check it out on Android or iOS!

    Don’t forget that QUT also provides free, confidential counselling services for current students!