Coping with exams
Worrying about exams • Preparing for exams • Improving your performance on the day of the exam • Coping with exams: summary of key points
This chapter is a short one, but it is important, because it is devoted to the prospect of being assessed through examination. In this section I will discuss why examinations might be stressful and offer some practical guidance on how you can reduce your anxiety levels. In particular, I will make a series of suggestions which can help you enhance your exam performance, and raise your exam grades.
One of the most worrying aspects of any academic study (regardless of whether this is part-time or full-time) is the undertaking of examinations. A recent study of examinations and stress, which took the blood pressure readings of students before and after they sat examinations (Hughes 2005), demonstrated that all students experienced higher blood pressure readings before end-ofterm examinations than afterwards, suggesting that exams are stressful for everyone. Interestingly, the students of high academic ability (who might, arguably, have been expected to be less worried about exams than their peers) demonstrated the highest levels of pre-examination stress, perhaps because the expectations about the level of their achievement would be greater than for those in the middle levels of the group.
Most people worry about exams. Increasingly, programmes are designed to include a higher level of coursework with less emphasis on formal