Managing Final Exam Stress
When I was a teacher at ESLI, one of the toughest times of the semester for teachers and students was final exams. No one wants to bomb their final exam. Everyone wants to move from ESLI and into the university on schedule. This means that it’s a very stressful time to be an international student!
Why? Well, think about it for a moment. Not only do international students have the ordinary stress that comes with being students, but you are also far from home in a strange country with a strange culture. You have to keep learning new things, remember the old things, improve your English, clean your dorm room…ARRRRRGH! What in the world can you do to stop feeling like your head might explode?
First, you take a deep breath and chill out for a minute. You always have time to breathe, and it is a truth that when we’re freaking out a little, we sometimes forget to take good, deep breaths. So do that for a minute.
Feeling better? Excellent! There are many ways to manage stress and anxiety around final exam time. First of all, make sure you take breaks, and continue doing something fun! Just spent two hours reviewing your Reading notes? Reward yourself with some time on the Xbox or PS4. Watch TV, listen to some music with your eyes closed, go see Avengers: Infinity War. Even better, go outside and get some exercise! This really wakes up your brain and stops anxiety in its tracks!Another way to make sure your study time isn’t stressful is to drink something warm while you study. Herbal teas and hot chocolate are great, though you want to avoid too much caffeine! You can also take a warm shower or bath to relax. Next, make sure you get plenty of sleep—all eight hours! Cutting back on sleep during exams is always a BAD idea.
Avoid other stressed-out people. If you have a friend you KNOW is going to be pacing up and down the hallway with index cards in hand frantically trying to cram in a little more vocabulary, wait for class to begin somewhere else. Put in your earbuds and listen to some music. You will not learn anything new in the hallway five minutes before test time.
Try to keep a list of the studying you would like to complete each day, and cross things off as you finish. It’s good to have a schedule so long as you forgive yourself if you don’t stick to it. Things happen, you study longer on one subject than you meant to, or you doze off for a few minutes. Just take a deep breath and get back to work!
If you find that you just can’t calm down, can’t sleep, or are so worried about exams that you feel like you might explode or start crying, there is help for you! All our partner universities have a counseling center. You have the ability to go there and talk to someone, or take a seminar in time management, or join a study group. When you go to the counseling center, they don’t tell anyone you are there. They will not call your teachers or your director at ESLI, and they most definitely won’t tell your friends. What they will do is help you relax and cope with your anxiety in a good, productive way. At the end of this post, you will find a list of links to the counseling center on all of the ESLI campuses. Go check them out!
Still breathing? Great job! Now get out there and nail those final exams! We know you can do it!
List of Counseling Centers
WKU Counseling and Testing Center
SU The Counseling Connection
UWS Student Health and Counseling
UMD Counseling Services
SIUE Counseling Services
WTAMU Counseling Services Center
TWU Wellness Centre Mental Health Services