7 Tips to Boost Your Confidence in Exams

See also: Taking Exams

They say that accomplishing anything requires a combination of inspiration and perspiration. This means that you need to work hard and work smart.

This philosophy applies to any job, and equally to doing well on your high school or college exams.

For many students the biggest problem with exams is a lack of confidence, or what some people might call “test anxiety”.

While knowing the content of the exam is, obviously, of importance, being able to put yourself in the proper mental state to excel and show off your learning is also significant.

The following 7 tips can help any middle school, high school, college or post-graduate student to do better on tests, earn better grades, and do it all with less stress:

1. Prepare Well

As we noted above, there is no substitute for good preparation. You have to study, pay attention in class, read the materials, and engage with what you are learning.

The best way to study is not to cram it all in hours or minutes before an exam. In fact, research has proven that a person who studies and then gets some rest does better on a test than someone who crams for twice as long and then goes straight to the exam.

How is this true? Scientists believe that one function of sleep is to give your brain time to consolidate what you have learned during the day. Think of it as a filing system: after you study everything is just sitting around in a messy pile on your desk; during sleep your body files it all away, in permanent storage.

This means that it is better to study for one hour, five days in a row then to study five hours just before your test.

2. Note Down What You Think and Learn

You may have heard someone say that you only remember 10% of what you read and 20% of what you hear.

These numbers have not really been supported by research, but it is true that people tend to remember more of what they engage with – that is, you remember something that you do or teach more than anything you just read or hear. This is one reason that taking notes about what you are learning is so important. As you write notes your brain is more likely to record, and later be able to recall, what you learned.

Another great way to remember what you learn better is to discuss it with someone. Study groups are great for this. When you talk about something you not only come up with more ideas, but you relate it to what you already know, you put it into context, and you better understand and remember it.

So, tell your parents or partner about the interesting information that you are learning and you can actually consider that as part of your study time.

3. Have a Positive Approach

Both when studying and when actually sitting for an exam, attitude matters. A positive attitude keeps your mind open, it keeps your body relaxed, and it makes it easier for you to concentrate and recall what you have learned.

Sometimes, though, staying positive can be difficult, particularly if the test is very important, if you are experiencing other life challenges at the time, if the exam is in a subject that is particularly difficult for you, or if you really have a bad test anxiety issue. In such situations simply trying to keep a good mood may not be easy.

4. Drink More Water and Eat Healthy Foods

Of course, drinking ample water (6-8 glasses a day, for most people), and eating healthy food including lean meats, fresh fruits and vegetables, and whole grains, is an important part of giving your body energy and your mind the power it needs.

While drinking all that water consider taking some stress busting vitamin B, brain powering Omega-3, healing CoQ10, or immune system boosting vitamin C. And then, take a walk around the block, because exercise and fresh air are good for stress relief as well as processing your thoughts.

5. Avoid Talking About Your Studies Just Before the Exam and Trust Your Preparation

Sometimes the best way to relieve stress is to not talk about the topic but, instead, just take a break and let your mind relax.

This is particularly true of test anxiety; it is important that you get your mind of your studies in the hour or so just before the exam. Rather than cramming in those last minute facts, trust that you have done your due diligence, studied what needed to be studied, and now give yourself a mental time out. Clear your mind and go into the test fresh.

6. Include a Small Fun Break in Your Schedule to Relax Your Body

Of course, breaks are not just for the hour or so leading up to your test. Even when you are studying hard for the most important test of your life, you need to take some breaks.

The best way to do this is to schedule them into your study time.

If you take impromptu breaks you are more likely to abuse them, letting your attention wander too far from your task at hand. Instead, schedule your study time and build-in breaks. For example, you might say that you are going to start studying at 4pm, then take a break for dinner at 5pm. Then, you plan to study from 6 until 7pm.

7. Do Meditation

Continuing the schedule from the previous tip, let’s remember that you also need to rest your mind and open it up for more learning.

So, some of those breaks might be relaxing, taking a nap, eating, and otherwise taking care of your body. But some should include taking care of your mind, perhaps through meditation. Let’s say that it is now 7pm, do a bit of yoga or meditation. Then, do a final hour of studying before getting a good night’s sleep.

You may find our pages on Relaxation Techniques and Mindfulness helpful.

Further Reading from Skills You Need

The Skills You Need Guide for Students

The Skills You Need Guide for Students

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