“Did I study the right topics for this exam?”
“If I don’t get a good mark, will I ruin my opportunities for university and career success?”
“Am I suited to university?”
Sound familiar? You are not alone!
Educational psychologist Dr Valerie Sotardi from the College of Education, Health and Human Development and Associate Professor Erik Brogt from UC’s Learning Evaluation and Academic Development team have created a free online resource to help students understand assessment anxiety.
They say these types of stress-related thoughts are common among students – especially first year students.
“Any time we challenge ourselves, stress will be a natural part of learning. Any time we value our performance, stress will be a natural part of assessment. It’s crucial for students to remember that these are typical experiences, and nothing to be ashamed of,” Dr Sotardi said in a recent interview.
In moderation, these kinds of questions can be good. Taking the time to reflect on our own preparation, progress, and future outcomes can help us to evaluate and modify our behaviours to achieve success. However, if we are unable to cope effectively with these thoughts, then anxiety can take control.
Try the tips below to help keep the stress and anxiety in check.
- Set daily achievable goals and stick to them. For example – read chapter 1 and take notes, use flash cards to review material etc.
- Aim high, be realistic and focus on mastering the material – this is something you have more control over than a score or grade.
- Multitasking does not help you to learn! Don’t try to study while watching TV or chatting with friends. People generally are really poor multitaskers and perform poorly on these tasks while also being more stressed.
- Use the student support on campus. All institutions have people on staff whose job it is to help you – this includes people such as librarians, student support staff, and learning skills staff. For more information see canterbury.ac.nz/support/
- If you are worried about your performance, talk with your friends and classmates about what they’re concerned about and how they’re handling it.
Want to know more? Read Under pressure: Understanding assessment anxiety – Resource for students
What’s your best tip for nailing your exam prep? Energy drinks and coffee might be the common go-to, but they’re really not the best choice!
Just think about how you’ve felt immediately after exercise? Focused? Energised? Motivated? Had some of your best ideas to solve that unsolvable problem? That’s no accident!
Exercise kick starts the brain and releases proteins that improve your cognitive performance. It also releases endorphins which decrease your stress levels and make you happier – leveling your mood state. Finally, it boosts your energy levels. I know, that sounds counter-intuitive, but really, you’ve good to spend energy to get energy!
So, rather than reach for the caffeine, we suggest getting some cardio in. Any kind of cardio, just as long as you get your heart rate up! Get a little puffed. Go for a quick 15 minute walk up around the campus, or if it’s wet, up and down the stairs. Hey, if that seems too much, take the lift up and walk down the stairs to start with! If you’ve got more time, stick to your usual routine – be that a jog/run, hitting the gym or shooting some hoops.
All that exercise is going to use fuel and cause you to sweat. To make sure you don’t get ‘the tired’ later on, make sure you stay hydrated (with water!) and eat throughout the day. If it’s a big exercise session, then eat a good meal (like your lunch or breakfast) within 30 minute of exercise finishing. Water water water all day! Those extra trips to the bathroom will get you moving a bit more, which is a good thing!
Tell us your best tip for exam prep by leaving a comment below, and we’ll pick one person to win a PushMe session with one of our trainers.
Yip, it’s almost that time again: Exams. To help you get through and thrive like the amazing person you are, the UCSA is providing a few services over the coming weeks. Check out our website for more information, and hit up our services.
Stress Less Study Week, 21–25 October: A week of giveaways and activities to help you stay well. Think: Morning tea, group fitness, a quiz at The Foundry, and more!
Exam Breakfasts, 29 October to 9 November: Pretty self-explanatory, but we’re teaming up with Fresh Up to deliver hot breakfasts that will fill your belly.
- Available at Haere-roa.
- From 7.45am.
- Exam days only.
- Until 10am or serves run out. First in, first served!
Exam Dinners, 29 October to 8 November: Tasty $10 dinners from 5pm–8pm in The Foundry. Available weekdays only.
Study Rooms in Haere-roa, 21–28 October: We’re opening up spaces inside Haere-roa so you can find a quiet place to hit the books.
Good luck with your exams. You’ll do great!