Tips to settle those nerves before your exam

It is perfectly natural to feel anxious about an approaching exam. This feeling of nervousness is created by your body's secretion of adrenalin, and is necessary to give you the boost you need to perform at your optimal level.

The following techniques can help you settle those nerves before your exam:

  • Make sure you have registered for your exam
  • Make sure your exam timetable is correct
  • Make sure you take all the necessary equipment into the exam room
  • Before attempting to answer questions, it is critical to read through the entire paper, paying close attention to the instructions and mark allocations
  • Before attempting to answer a question, read it carefully, paying attention to the verbs used (i.e. discuss, explain, name, etc.)
  • If you are given a choice of questions, mark those which immediately appeal to you (do not worry at this stage if there are questions you think you cannot do)
  • Work out how much time should be spent on each question, according to the mark allocations and total time allowed to complete the exam in
  • Number your questions carefully and exactly in the same manner as they are numbered on the question paper (e.g. 1.1.1 or A.1)
  • Start with the questions you can do easily, leaving space for and returning later to answer earlier questions, so that your answers are in the correct order for the examiner
  • For long, essay-type questions, first plan your answer, by jotting down the main points in rough, as well as deciding on the introduction, body and conclusion
  • If you are not sure of the meaning of a question, ask for clarification. Don't hesitate to ask your instructor or invigilator for clarification
  • Before you hand in your exam paper, proofread it at least once, and make sure you haven't left out any questions, sub-questions, answers or parts of answers
  • Avoid not answering a question, even if you are not sure about the answer – always try to use your common sense in such an instance
  • Try to keep calm and to think clearly
  • Avoid "negative self-talk", which will have a debilitating effect on your performance

Extracts from: Kaplinski, S. (1992). Preparing for a quality Matric. Cape Town: Don Nelson Publishers

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