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  • Writer's pictureZenith Education Studio

Top 6 tips on managing exam stress


In Singapore, where much of what we do involves some form of evaluation, it is common to see students feeling overwhelmed by the sheer pressure to consistently perform well. From a young age, students are socialized into the ideals of meritocracy, and the ability to do well has always been lauded with praises, monetary rewards, and even a promise of success. All of which has created a highly competitive environment where stress inevitably builds up, leading to a multitude of issues. Ironically, stress can be extremely debilitating and subtract from one’s ability to truly live up to his/her potential. Hence, stress needs to be managed adequately, as Zenith details in the following guide.

Before Exams

1. Regulating Negative Emotions

When we do badly on a test or exam, it is normal to feel upset. It is normal to feel disappointed in ourselves and it is normal to feel like we’ve failed. However, this doesn’t mean that these are productive feelings to have. Negative emotions that are not attended to can build up, causing a dip in productivity and motivation, create chronic stress or result in more serious health issues. To regulate such negative emotions, we need to pinpoint the root cause to effectively manage them. Prior to sitting for an examination, especially for national examinations such as the O Levels and A Levels, it is normal to experience a serious case of butterflies in your stomach. Most of the time, the stress or anxiety we feel arises from the fear of failing to meet expectations pinned upon by ourselves or others. The fear of disappointment inevitably makes us overthink and feel anxious, so much so that it impedes our ability to function normally. A great tip to prevent this from enfeebling us is by learning how to reasonably manage our expectations while reevaluating how we see failure. Take failure as an opportunity to learn and grow even further. Failure teaches us important lessons that success can never teach us, and it guides us to avoid making similar ones in the future. Learn to celebrate the small victories! It is also crucial to note that just because you may have failed to meet someone else’s expectations, it does not mean that you have failed!

2. Manage Your Time

As JC or Secondary School students, our schedules will likely be packed full from both our academic and non-academic pursuits. As we seek to make time for a multitude of activities, we may end up neglecting our studies throughout the year, only to find ourselves panicking over the revision workload during the examination period. Our stress levels are also likely to increase when taking either the O Levels or A Levels, where the exam scope is broader than usual school exams and the consequences of doing badly are significant. As such, time management is an absolutely crucial skill for students to have. While different times of the year may entail different priorities (e.g sports competition seasons), we should always set aside time to review our school work. It is important to be consistent! Trust us, this will pay off when you’re doing your final revision for the examinations. You will not only find the process much easier, but you can allot more time to deal with your weaker subjects (if any), helping you to reduce your overall stress levels. However, if you’re struggling, don’t worry! At Zenith, the best tuition center in Singapore, our tutors will guide you throughout your time with us and will consistently review and revise different topics throughout the academic year.

During Exams

3. Exercise

Stress will inevitably build up during your exam period, and it can be debilitating as we realize that we may not be able to perform at our maximum potential during our revision, or worse, the exam itself. A healthy mind is not independent of a healthy body; it is important that we maintain our physical well-being too. By sweating it out, we not only take our minds off the stress, but it can also help to improve our mental stability! Additionally, your body releases endorphins when you exercise, triggering a positive feeling within you. As such, exercise is a good and effective stress-reliever, allowing you to bounce back stronger for your next paper.

4. Get Enough Rest

It is crucial that we secure a good rest before any exam so that we are able to understand everything with a clear mind and not in a state of complete fatigue. Sleep is something that students frequently cut back on, as they sacrifice their sleep just for that extra hour of revision or work. However, this will end up impeding our ability to focus the next day, resulting in a vicious cycle of having to sleep late to do work as we do not have enough energy to complete our work in the day. We also experience more stress as a result of insufficient sleep, of which the effects may be amplified during the exam period. Students should aim to get at least 7-8 hours of undisturbed rest before any important exam! This will undoubtedly positively influence your ability to comprehend the examination questions, reducing your stress during the exams.

After Exams

5. Appropriate and Measured Reflection

Many of us may harp on the mistakes that we’ve made during the exam. We may overthink the different ways that we felt we could have done better, giving rise to post-exam stress. While reflection is important, we should also be careful to refrain from going overboard. Are we suffering from a negativity bias? Was the mistake that we made really so major to the point that the entire paper is doomed? Identifying our errors is one thing, but blowing things out of proportion is another. Overthinking can have deleterious effects on our mental health, as it adds unnecessary stress on ourselves! To combat this, we can try to think from a macro perspective and see the bigger picture instead of scrutinizing specific mistakes that we may have made. Try to reflect on your performance in a rational and measured manner.

6. Moving Forward

When we receive our results at the end of everything, it may be considered subpar, especially in comparison to the effort that we’ve put in. However, we should note that regardless of what we feel about our results, what matters more is how we move forward from this. How can we better prepare for the next exam? Should your performance be less than ideal, it is vital that you do not let it beat down your confidence and bring you unnecessary stress. Rather, turn it into motivation to do better the next time. Conversely, if you’ve performed well or better than you’ve expected, identify what you did correctly and try to emulate that the next time you take on another exam. Don’t be complacent!

Recognizing how our skills have improved or regressed over time will be helpful in planning our revision for the next exam, as we now know where to direct our efforts to. However, this may be difficult at times, as we may not be able to intuitively pick out our weak points or places in need of improvement. However, at Zenith, the best tuition center in Singapore, our tutors will be more than equipped to help you with this! Under the guidance of our experienced tutors, they can conduct a postmortem of your exam with you, helping you to analyze and zero in on your errors. Our tutors will then be able to provide you with the appropriate help, better preparing you for the next exam to come.

We hope that you’ve found this guide insightful. Click here, if you’re keen on joining the best tuition programme in Singapore! You may also visit our testimonials page to find out more or jump straight to contacting us for a free trial today!

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