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School exams: A success guide

During adolescence you learn new things, you discover yourself, you have fun with your friends or boyfriend but it is also a time during which your school obligations increase. The exam process is something completely new for you and it could make you feel stressed. Being stressed about exams is usually due to the great importance they bear for your family, society and of course you. Often, family life revolves and is organized around your studying and your maximum performance at those exams.

Moderate stress about the exams is necessary and very helpful. It could motivate you to reclaim time and organize your studying. During exams, stress keeps your body alert and sharpens the functions that are necessary for a good performance (attention, memory, concentration). Excessive stress about the exams, however, could negatively influence preparation and studying. Instead of concentrating on the examinable content, you only focus on what could go wrong.

Practical student’s guide

• It is important to figure out for yourself what those exams really mean to you. What does failure or success signify.

• Carefully plan and organize the examinable content. For example make the following calculation: “this is the number of pages I have to study, this is the time I need to study each page, so in order for me to be adequately prepared I need that total amount of hours”. Plan those hours during the day or the days you have at your disposal in order to prepare for the particular exam. Keep in mind that every individual requires different time in order to learn something. Some people are fast learners and some are slow learners. So be sincere with yourself and make sure you leave enough time to study.

• Try not to leave out certain chapters, with the thought that they are not important enough or that they don’t qualify as possible exam material. Even the possibility that a chapter you haven’t studied could be among the topics of the exams, will make you feel stressed.

• Don’t leave repetition for the last moment.

• Make small pleasant breaks. Allow yourself to relax and get some rest at small intervals.

• Do the repetitions together with your friends. Meet with your classmates and ask questions to each other.

• Replace negative thoughts, such as “I will not make it, I will do really badly at the exams”, with positive ones: “even if it scares me I will face it” or “I have been well prepared, everything will go well, I will have a good result”.

• It really helps to listen to the advice of your close ones but it is also really important to eventually find your own pace and figure out what helps you or not.

• Try to tell your parents, your teachers or your friends what they could do or not do so as not to burden you with additional stress.

• Avoid staying out late before the exams and make sure to rest and sleep well at night.

•Don’t forget to eat well. Nutrition is your fuel.

• Shower every morning with lukewarm water.

On the day of the exams

• Wake up early, have breakfast, prepare all you need to have with you at the exams, make it on time to the examination centre.

• During the exams concentrate, relax and breathe calmly.

• Read the questions carefully and organize your time (divide it according to the number of questions).

• Use scratch pad in order to organize your thoughts.

• If you get stuck at a question, proceed to the next one and try answering it after you’ve finished with everything else.

• Try to save up a bit of time at the end in order to re-read your answers.

• In case you feel really stressed during the exams don’t immediately succumb to it. Try to remind yourself that stress symptoms, no matter how acute they are, usually go away after a few minutes.

• Think positive: your exam paper is worthy, the effort you’ve put really shows and everything will go well.

Just remember that life goes on even after the exams. A failure, no matter how small or big, is not the end of the world, even if it seems like it. There will be plenty of opportunities for you in order to try and achieve your future goals.

In collaboration with:

Vassiliki Dimitrakopoulou

Psychologist, Scientific Associate of the Greek Society of Adolescent Medicine

Artemis Tsitsika

Ass. Professor of Pediatrics - Adolescent Medicine, Scientific Coordinator of the Program "PROLEPSIS» ran by the Greek Society of Adolescent Medicine

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