I'm getting rather good at this exam stuff now, I kinda get the hang of this without freaking out neither my nerves nor my brain.

Here's a few tips if you need to fight stress during an exam.

  • Start off easily! If you've got some time before the exam starts, hang around and talk to friends. Don't worry about what's about to come.
  • Don't enter the room before you have to! Being early means you'll just have to sit even longer in the same spot.
  • Don't look at the questions! When they hand out the sheets of paper, if you've got a minute, spend it staring out into the air. Sit for 45-60 seconds before you read the questions.
  • Don't start writing right away! On most exams, you have multiple tasks. (Not multitasking) Read through all of them, find the one that inspires you the most, then start writing.
  • If you can't get started, don't panic! Here's a thing I learnt from a friend: When you've got a task that seems impossible to write about, make a map of your knowledge on the topic. You know lots of stuff, you just need to arrange it, or call it out.
    Make a box in the middle of a sheet of paper, then insert the problem. Draw some lines to other boxes, like a DFD0 diagram, and insert key-words. Add more lines and boxes until you've got a set of key-words, and then arrange them in a disposition.
  • Use your time wisely! Spend 1/3 of the time making a rough disposition of your essay/project/article/calculation/experiment, then spend 1/3 perfecting it, writing the actual hand-in. Leave when 1/3 of the time remains, and impress the shit out of your friends. You can do it if you just find the rhythm and inspiration in your work.
  • Relax every 45 minutes! Stretch your back, your arms, your neck. You stiffen up somewhat while sitting in the same position all the time. Relax for a minute. Stretch, breathe, look around, then go back to the writing.

    There are more ideas of how to fight your stress, but I can't quite think of them. Also check out Exam-preparations

  • How to keep calm before, during, and after the examination

    1. Do not cram the night before. Get at least 6 hours of sleep (meaning, do not drink coffee the night before!) Go easy on the carbohydrates the next morning, grab some fried egg or turkey bacon sandwich, anything that is protein-rich.
    Ermm, wait. Somebody just brought my attention to the point that turkey and some other meats are trytophan-rich, and are likely to make you sleepy. YMMV. I try to get some meat into my system before long papers (3 hours or more), because they help prevent that unmistakeable growling sound more effectively than eggs do.

    2. You can cram again in the morning if you like, but don't bite off more than you can chew. Once you feel saturated, it is a good sign that you have reached your limit. Pushing yourself beyond this is unproductive and will make you tired - a definite no-no.

    3. Stop studying 15 minutes before you walk into the examination hall (which probably means 30-45 minutes before the examination starts). Studying at this point in time brings your attention to the topics you haven't touched yet and is likely to freak you out if you haven't been studying like you should. Instead, run through what you just read that morning and the night before. This keeps the stuff you just learnt fresh in your head.

    4. Talk to friends. Avoid those with blank or despairing looks on their faces. If they are focused, they will probably try to clarify some doubts with you. Help them if you can, if not just tell them you haven't touched those topics. Clarify any doubts you have. don't ask for summaries of topics, those will only make you panic. Visit the washroom and relieve yourself before you walk in.

    5. When you walk into the examination hall, make sure you know where you're sitting - don't figure it out on the spot. This gives you the impression that you are in control, and helps panic suppression. When you sit down, make sure you are comfortable. Check if the table is wobbly. If it is, wait for writing paper to be distributed (or ask for it), fold some up and jam it under the offending table limb.

    6. When the exam questions are being distributed, don't try to sneak a look inside. Listen to the invigilator - he may be talking about errata in the paper, and you do not want to miss that. Read the instructions to candidates carefully. Note the compulsory questions, and those with options.

    7. When checking the questions, note the number of questions. Quickly calculate how much time you have for each question (or for each mark, e.g. 2 marks in 1 minute). this will give you an idea of the pace you will have to go at.

    8. Once the examination starts, flip open the paper quickly and read the first question. Understand what it is asking. Formulate your answer, write it down, move on. If you don't know how to do it, move on. Check the time. Are you on track? If not, move faster. If you're too fast, slow down a little - I've seen people suffer from panic attacks because they moved too fast at the start.

    9. Stretch every 10 minutes, or after every major question, or whenever you feel like it. Don't make too much noise - you don't want to disturb your friends.

    10. Skip the tedious questions, if you think they will slow you down. Near the end of the paper, when you have left a trail of unanswered questions in the wake of your progress, you will be thankful you have the next half an hour to slowly work out these problems, instead of mulling over them and then rushing your way through the rest of your paper.

    11. After the exam, it is advisable to avoid those who didn't study - they will be prophets of doom. Look for the smarter ones, clarify any questions you had during the examination, because...

    12. That's the end of the battle, but not the war. If you do not have a paper the next day, spend the next hour or so skimming the stuff you've been cramming since 12 hours ago. Summaries will do - you just want to keep it fresh in your head, so you don't lose so much of it by the time the next examination comes around. Leave the stuff you didn't touch for the next revision session.

    13. Castigate yourself for improper time management. Vow to do better next time.

    14. The war's not over yet, buddy. You know what you have to do.

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