I freely admit that I used to put a lot of pressure on myself during exam time – but it didn’t benefit me at all. Being cool, calm and collected would have.
Since the new exams it seems to have got a lot worse for my students. Not only do Year 11’s have a crazy amount of facts to memorize, they also have the added pressure of social media and creating perfect lives which most other generation just didn’t have to face.
How on Earth can you be happy and chilled throughout this process?
Well, it really depends on what kind of person you are. I meet some students who are so completely organised but always get so stressed by the exams that they face that they can’t perform well under pressure and I also meet some that barely revise but get incredible final results.
Did you know that the simple biological response to stress is either the fright or flight response?
During both reactions there is a rush of hormones from the brain which gets sent to the bloodstream. These effect;
· The heart rate and blood pressure which increase dramatically.
· Your pupils dilate to take in as much light as possible
· The veins under your skin constrict to send more blood to major muscle groups (responsible for the "shiver" often associated with fear -- less blood in the skin to keep it warm)
· Blood-glucose level increases (Like drinking a can of monster!)
·All your muscles tense up, energized by adrenaline and glucose which results in goosebumps
· Nonessential systems (like digestion and immune system) shut down to allow more energy for emergency functions
· trouble focusing on small tasks (brain is directed to focus only on the big picture like your initial environment, the clock, the other students in the exam hall - in order to determine where threat is coming from)
All of these physical responses are intended to help you survive a dangerous situation by preparing you to either run for your life or fight for your life. Of course, this is not helpful at all in an exam - Of course there are very few situations where we would need to 'survive'
The best way to combat this would be to relax … which isn’t the easiest thing when you are faced with a dangerous situation. So here are some tips that could help :)
*Always be prepared enough to make you feel positive about what you are going into.
*Try to meditate – have some quiet time and don’t do too much preparation. It could make your brain overloaded and begin to stress even before the exam.
*Do things that you love – daily.
*Remind yourself that you can do this!
*Create a vision board – you are completing these exams for a purpose – maybe you want to get into college, sixth form, get an apprentiships. Whatever it is, make sure you know the reason and visualize that – rather than thinking about every possible question that could go wrong or come up in the exam.