It's that time of the year again where students all across the globe are prone to burst into tears at the slightest glimpse of a calendar and the reminder of how unprepared they are. That's right: it's exam season.
Exams and tests are anxiety provoking enough as it is, but when you already have an underlying mental health problem they can be even more daunting. Hopefully, these few tips I have will help you manage any anxiety you have surrounding exams. And trust me - at this point, after sitting so many, I'm an expert.
Get any special arrangements sorted out well in advance
This is probably a bit of a bad piece of advice to give now, seeing as exams are underway, but bear it in mind if you have exams next year! If you require extra time, your own room, or any writing equipment make sure you start applying at the start of the year as it can take some time to sort out. Be prepared to provide evidence for your school or college, too, as these things aren't just handed out to everyone.
Prepare any and all equipment in good time
Make sure you have a clear pencil case full of pens that work and pencils that are sharpened the night before. Check whether you're allowed a calculator and keep it somewhere safe so that you don't forget it! Gather any texts you're allowed to use and be sure that they're okay to take into the exam hall. Some exams allow annotated copies, and others have to be completely clean - so no page markers either!
Break studying into small chunks
Don't try and tackle an entire unit in one day. Break your studying down into chapters, pages, and paragraphs, and don't spend a solid hour slaving away over it. Three short sessions a day are much more likely to benefit you than one long one. And even if you're only answering one question a day that's still better than nothing.
Take time off if you need it
Don't force yourself to study every day, or on the days when you can't face it. You'll probably end up doing more damage than good as you won't retain the information and will just get yourself worked up. Take a breather and remember that tomorrow is another day. Or if you can't not do something, find a fun alternative. There are educational games and quizzes online, and film and TV adaptations can still serve as refreshers for English texts.
Take some water in with you
Most written exams will let you take a clear plastic bottle of water in with you, so long as there are no labels or other writing on it. Sometimes a sip of water can help clear your head when you start getting in a tizz over a tricky question, and you don't want to end up dehydrated when you need to be on top form.
Try your best to eat and sleep well before
The last thing you need is to feel tired or hungry in the middle of an exam, so a decent night's sleep and breakfast are key on exam days. Anxiety can make this tricky, however, so try using relaxation techniques and white noise to fall asleep, and stop using any screens about an hour before bed. And a cup of tea and an apple is better than nothing for breakfast, so at least see if you're capable of holding something down amongst the nerves.
Remember that it's not the end of the world
Perhaps the hardest thing to do when anxiety kicks in, but one of the most important. Exams do not define you and grades don't rule your life. You'd be surprised how lenient colleges and universities can be if you don't have the grades you needed, and if they really want you they'll take you regardless. And there are always options to resit if you're really unhappy with your results.