Say Goodbye to Exam Stress, and Hello to Success
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28 May 2020

IUMW Malaysia

By Asha Nair Ganeser

The world's education system has been shaken up by the effect of the Covid-19 pandemic. It is a crucial period for educators and students as both adapt to the new "normal" - online-based teaching. This uncertainty has created a higher than average level of stress for many students. Anxiety rises, even more, when they hear "online examination.” Indeed, online examinations or final assessments are the current selection for most universities to assess students towards the end of the semester. Lecturers from the International University of Malaya Wales (IUMW) are well-prepared with online assessments and exams, which students will be sitting for their first round of online-based exams in early June 2020.

Taking up online exams or assessments is new for most, and will be a challenging experience for students who are so familiar with traditional paper-based classroom exams. Many thoughts or concerns will have popped up in students' heads, such as "This is new to me, how am I going to do this?", “Will I be able to complete this and pass the examination?" or "I feel like I’ve gone blank and forgot what I revised earlier." As quoted by Joey Lawsin, "The opposite of a problem would likely be the correct solution" - every problem or challenge that we face will sure have its solution. Well, students, fear not! There are a few methods that can help mentally and physically prepare for online exams and assessments which will help eliminate stress:

Challenge Your ‘Doubtful Mind’.

Overthinking, at any time, is a bad idea, especially when it comes to thinking about something that is yet to happen. For instance, assuming that you will flop in the online exam before it started does not mean that you will fail the exam. Challenge your doubtful mind with positive thoughts; say, "you can do it!" or "you will pass this with flying colours!". It eventually will bring you out of the ‘doubtful thinking trap’, in which it’s so easy to get stuck.

Stay Active, Relaxed, and Be Confident

Always be relaxed and take a slow deep breath before you get to your task. Be sure to have ample sleep as that can help reduce your stress. Don't forget to exercise as that will build your strength and self-confidence. Remember, confidence is key!

Revision is Your Best Friend

Regardless of whether your exam is in the form of a final assessment or open book, you need to revise and practice with exercises your lecturer would have given to you previously. Good notes, such as those which have been uploaded in your Open Learning/Google Classroom will help you during revision. Try to use the ‘Cornell Note Taking Method’ to simplify the notes you have so that it becomes more comfortable for you to read, understand, and memorise. You can also do a group discussion with peers. In the end, "practice makes perfect!"

"Planning" is the Magic Word

Plan your time wisely and decide how long you want to spend on each question. For on-the-day submission, don't waste time if you can't answer a question. Jump to another question which you feel is easier to answer, and once you complete it, go back to the difficult question. If you are given several days to complete a specific assessment, make sure to divide your time accordingly to avoid late submission.

Be Attentive to Details

Make sure you read and understand the requirements of the online exam or assessment. Take note of even the smaller aspects, such as the required font size. Read the instructions carefully and look for keywords before answering the question. Use skim and scan techniques to go through the question quickly so that you will know how to pace yourself in answering those questions.

Do Forget about the ‘Forgetting’

You should eliminate the attitude of thinking that you will forget things, as that will hinder you from performing well. List down essential formulas/definitions once the exam starts so that you don't worry about forgetting them.

Check Your Answers

Make sure you have some time to check your answers before you submit them. It can be the format, grammar, or even accurateness of your answers. Remember, you will get zero for the questions that you don't answer, and it's just a waste of marks. Don't regret it later!

Say No to Post-Review

This is a common thing most students will do once he or she has submitted their answers. Try and avoid this as you will only feel disappointed and frustrated if your friend has answered differently from you. Remember that you have done the utmost best in your exam, and you should be confident with your answers, as there is no way to change them once you’ve submitted it!

Following these tips will help you to say goodbye to exam stress and welcome more success into your life by achieving good grades. As Stephen Covey says, "We are the creative force of our lives, and through our own decisions rather than our conditions if we carefully learn to do certain things, we can accomplish those goals." If you adopt certain elements to make changes, there sure will be a fruitful outcome in the end.

All the best students!

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