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Overcoming Final Exam Anxiety

Motivational Picture. Caption: Keep calm and study on.

It is 12 o’clock at night and you’re cramming material for your history exam. Sweat drips down from your brow as you try to memorize the series of events that led up to Napoleon’s defeat during his invasion of Russia in 1812. As you sip your third cup of coffee, you struggle to stay awake. Maybe it’s because you skipped dinner to study at the library, or maybe the caffeine is finally catching up to you, but you begin to feel a weird sensation in your stomach. As the stress builds up, you begin to worry: What if I don’t do well on this exam? What will happen to my GPA? Slumping on your desk in defeat, you fall victim to midterm anxiety.

We’ve all been there. Midterm anxiety affects everyone, but it doesn’t have to affect you. Follow these 4 tips for overcoming midterm anxiety.

Prepare in Advance: The best thing you can do is prepare in advance. It’s easy to let time fly by and procrastinate, but it leads to unnecessary stress and anxiety. When your professor announces that you have a test in 2 weeks, try to map out your study schedule. Set up milestones (i.e. review a chapter a day) for each day leading up to your test. By committing yourself to your study plan, you’ll feel confident in your preparation.

Exercise Regularly: Sometimes you just need to blow off some steam. Cardiovascular exercise is especially helpful when you’re experiencing midterm anxiety. If you’re feeling stressed with academics, make sure you take some time to exercise and burn off that negative energy.

Healthy Nutrition: In addition to regular exercise, a well-balanced diet is essential to avoiding midterm anxiety. According to the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, a diet rich in fiber, fruits, and vegetables can help reduce stress; furthermore, you can reduce stress by avoiding excessive caffeine, sugar, and high-fat foods.

Destress Before Your Test: Still experiencing pre-exam butterflies? I highly recommend that you watch a cat/puppy video. Although it may seem unconventional, watching cat/puppy videos has been proven to relieve stress and boost happiness levels in adults. We’ve compiled a list of cute cat/puppy videos for you to enjoy; you can find the list on the “De-Stress Before Your Test” file in the Course Resources section. So the next time you’re experiencing pre-exam anxiety, watch a cat/puppy video on your smartphone!

I hope that you find these tips helpful for final exams. Best wishes for an awesome term!

  • Jonathan A. Lu ‘19

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