How do I prepare for an exam?

I have to do an oral exam at university and I’m absolutely dreading it. I get panic attacks, so I’m worried my nerves will get the betterof me and my mind will just seize up. What can I do?

Lots of people find exams nerve-wracking, and having to speak in them can be even worse. It might be a good idea to raise your concerns with your tutor. They’ll be able to give you advice about what to expect, and it’s likely they will have helped other students in the same position. Talking about the exam should make you feel more prepared and thus relieve some of the anxiety.

You could ask your tutor about doing a few trial runs of an oral exam situation, so that you can get a real feel for what it will be like. Or you could ask fellow students, friends and family to help. Even if you just talk through some of your revision, it should help you to prepare.

Revising effectively should also help to make you feel more confident. Make a plan well in advance and try your best to stick to it, then following these pre-exam tips:

  • Get a good night’s sleep for a few days before the exam. If your anxiety is stopping you from sleeping the night before then listen to music or read a book – at least this will take your mind off the exam and you will hopefully get some rest
  • Eat well before and up to the exam. This will help you to concentrate and also has a positive effect on your mood
  • Concentrate on being as calm as possible when going in for the exam. Taking deep, steady breaths can help with this
  • Have a chat with someone you know before the exam to help you lighten your mood and relax
  • Make sure you have some water available in the exam as dry throats can be a problem when you feel nervous
  • If you stall, or feel like you can’t continue during the exam, take a moment, have a deep breath and then continue

Remember that most people are nervous in spoken exams and that the examiner is not trying to catch you out, they just want you to do your best.

Answered by bss on 25-Sep-2012

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