Exam preparation tips to reduce nerves

The exam period is daunting for everyone, no question. There are just a few opportunities to transform all of your hard work (or at least time spent in class) into the payoff – a good mark and achieving the next step forward in your academic career. The nerves are justified, but how can you calm them enough to make it through exams relatively unscathed? During my time at UQ, having prepared for countless exams, I found that it's all in the preparation.


Balance is key

You’d be right in thinking that exams are the best time to knuckle down, get serious, and lots of other ideas that your teachers would be impressed with. However, it will be your ability to balance your everyday routine that will be the key to success.

Sure, taking some time away from work and big social events will help you stay focused, but to do nothing but study, will have entirely the opposite effect. Cramming, struggling through all-nighters and forgoing creature comforts like Netflix and hanging out with friends will create great anxiety and interfere with your productivity. Remember: exams and study are important, and so is your wellbeing.


Get social

And on that note, why not make the study season work in your favour? A great way to cement your understanding of the semester’s knowledge is to study in groups. Your brain is great, but the sum of many brains can lead to greater understanding of the tasks ahead.

Verbalising your notes, discussing with your peers and formulating tactics as a team can help your study process far more than just memorising your scribbled lecture notes. A change of scenery and a few laughs along the way can help ease stress or nerves pre-exams.


Get organised!

This might seem obvious, but you’d be surprised how many people adequately prepare themselves for the study season. You see, organisation starts not when exams do, but when classes start.

A great way to get organised is to develop a routine so you can ensure you get all your study done while meeting work and social commitments. This way you will know when you can buckle down to revise each week, making the task of studying for an exam a less daunting one.

Being organised also includes the space around you – creating a quiet, distraction-free place you can go to hit the books on a regular basis will help your frame of mind, achieving greater results. Plus, buying great stationery can be a lot of fun and the perfect incentive to colour-code, file and chart your way to study success.


Eat, drink and be healthy

Ensuring you remain in good health before an exam will help you be in the best shape to achieve your study goals. A good diet can help brain function, while drinking plenty of water can help to avoid feeling fuzzy – clarity of communication is key in exams. Regular exercise can help maintain healthy levels of stress, giving you time away from the books to refresh. And plenty of rest helps convert those study notes from words on a page into fully formed ideas, while replenishing your energy during this busy time.


Get in the know

Don't be afraid to ask for a helping hand. While your teachers cannot always be there to guide you through your study process, they will let you know the expected content you need to cover for the exam. Finding out if previous exams are available can help with the fear of the unknown. It will also ensure you are up-to-date on the format and can help you create a plan of how to tackle the pages once the timer starts.

Last updated:
24 September 2020