Final approach: Don’t hit the wall;
climb over it instead
Many students find their anxiety level at an all-time high by the end of the semester. Is this you during finals? Do you:
- Feel like you go blank?
- Become frustrated?
- Find yourself thinking, “I can’t do this” or “I am stupid”?
- Feel your heart racing or find it difficult to breathe?
- Suddenly remember the answers after turning in a test?
- Score much lower on exams than on homework or papers?
Pressure can come from many directions. Maybe you just want to do as well on your final exam as you have during the semester. Maybe you must earn a top score on your final to improve your overall grade. Reacting to performance pressure, anxiety and stress can challenge even the best students, but you can take control by “preparing to succeed.” In other words, rather than hitting the wall, create a plan of action that will help you vault over it. Here are some tips:
One night of marathon cramming won’t prepare you as well as short, repetitive study sessions. Start studying and reviewing — even in small doses — before finals begin. Procrastinating magnifies stress. Knowing that you have started helps you stay in control.
Practice, practice, practice
Practicing is not only a good way to retain knowledge, it also helps build your comfort level with the typical final exam performance environment. Take a practice exam or two using the same time constraints as those in the actual final exam. You will get a feel for where you need to concentrate your studies and how to pace yourself during a test. Confidence and familiarity are very effective anxiety reducers.
Learn to relax
Stress can make us fearful and even lead to irrational thinking; we set unrealistic goals and create imaginary obstacles that thwart success. Make quiet time for yourself to control stress. Don’t just take a break — make a break. Schedule time to get some fresh air, listen to music, go for a run or a swim, or eat a healthy meal. Simple steps like these can help calm your nerves and keep you balanced and positive.
Adjust your focus
Anxiety and stress build up because of worrying about the future. Keep your focus on the present: What is it you need to do now? Get rid of distractions; control negative thinking; organize and prioritize your plan of action; and move forward. Remember, you can do it.