TESTS – some tips for staying calm before, during & after.

This year, exams aren’t happening in the usual way. Instead pupils are taking tests and completing assessments. These might be during class time or more formally in the gym hall. This can still be a nerve-wracking experience. Here are some tips to help you manage your nerves so that you can do the very best on the day.

Before the test

  • If you haven’t slept well or at all the night before, don’t worry. Adrenaline will get you through the day much better than you think.
  • Don’t worry if you really can’t manage to eat on the morning of a test – your body will catch up. But do try to drink something to keep you hydrated.

During the test

If you start to PANIC, here are some tips to help you calm yourself down and keep focused.

  • Panic is the effect of the symptoms of anxiety. When you are anxious, your body produces more adrenaline, which causes a faster heartbeat, faster breathing, feeling faint, tense stomach etc, These symptoms are uncomfortable but they can’t harm you. See this great BBC video on stress and how to manage it.
  • Stop, and take a few slow deep breaths to calm your body and slow your adrenaline down. Tell yourself you are feeling anxious but you will be ok.

If you find you have a MIND-BLANK, or you are overloaded with information – try these tips.

  • Take some deep, slow breaths and feel your body relax.
  • Focus – take your mind somewhere else. Maybe count how many desks are in each row, how many people have brown hair, how many words can you make out of the letters of your name. This will calm your mind, focus it down, and then you can apply yourself to the test paper.
  • Take your time – read the questions over again slowly and pull out the main points. If things aren’t any clearer, then leave it for now and move on to the next question.
  • Self-talk – you might start telling yourself “I can’t do this”, “I know I’m going to fail”. Replace these thoughts with positive ones like “It’s OK, I’m going to be fine” or “relax, concentrate and I’ll be OK”.
  • Grounding objects – some people find it comforting to carry or wear something which is associated with a person or place. If you start to panic or feel stressed, touch this object and think about the person or situation. This can calm you down and help you regain your focus.

After the test

  • Don’t focus on what you think you did wrong, or on the question you didn’t complete. Instead, remember how much you did answer and what you know you got right.
  • Try to avoid a test post-mortem with your friends. Going over what you wrote, and comparing your answers to your friend’s answers, can only make you feel anxious. It’s too late – you can’t go back and change what you wrote. Instead, enjoy the feeling of one more test ticked off.
  • If you do feel you have messed up, talk to family, teachers or friends and talk through your options. It may be possible to re-do the test, a previous assessment may count instead, or the consequences of a lower mark may not be too drastic.

Good luck everyone.

Some extra tips are here in short videos from BBC Radio 1.

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