Exams Are Here: How to Prevent Being Crushed by Stress

Exams Are Here: How to Prevent Being Crushed by Stress

Stress is a cause of many mental and some physiological health problems, and its prevalence amongst college students is so high that it reached epidemic proportions. This means that every college student is guaranteed to be stressed to the point where their health could suffer, and it peaks during the exam period.

As if this wasn’t enough to worry about, as an international student your stress levels will be exponentially higher than average. Multiple studies, like the ones you can see here and here, prove that foreign students suffer from higher stress levels, and therefore run a greater risk of mental health issues. As such, as an international student you will need to work twice as hard to reduce those levels and to prevent a mental breakdown.

Reduce additional stress factors long before exams

Being a college student in a different country, you need to get a head start when tackling stress. The main causes of the problem for international students are cultural differences and the language barrier. This means that before you come to another country you should do a lot of research into its culture and language. You should certainly make an effort to improve your proficiency with both before exams begin.

But as preparations go, it is also just as important to understand how college-level exams work. This way you’ll be able to prepare for them more effectively and your overall anxiety levels will reduce simply because you will know exactly what to expect.

Be realistic about your goals

Take some time to sit down in peace, breathe out, and think rationally about your studies. Where are you right now with your exam preparations? How much time do you have? What can you realistically achieve during that time?

You might not be able to get top grades in every class, and that is fine. That is good. That’s life and you shouldn’t start panicking just because you aren’t top of your class.

In the end those grades will matter very little, so do your best not to stress over them too much.

However, this doesn’t mean that you should start slacking. Instead, you need to analyze your situation and determine what kind of grades you need to get into which classes in order to maintain your position and progress. Then, start developing an exam prep plan that will focus on the classes which you prioritize. Next, prep for those where you are doing well.

This way, you won’t run the risk of failing due to the lack of preparation.

If they are not a priority for your course, leave the classes you are worst in for last. This way, you will have revised them closer to the exam and so they should still be fresh in your memory. But be realistic about your chances of failing these exams, and be prepared.

Talk to someone and get help

Some people study better in groups, but many people don’t and so this tip is not about preparing for exams with friends. But you should talk to them in order to reduce stress. You can ask them for advice or simply use them as a sounding board to vent your frustrations and anxieties.

International students are often unable to use this excellent stress-reduction strategy because the people they trust the most are thousands of miles away. Today though this hurdle can be overcome through technology. So, lift that self-ban on using social media and schedule weekly chats with your friends. By making them a part of your routine relaxation time, you’ll be able to exercise more self-control and avoid letting the screen time distract you from exam revision.

But sometimes, talking to friends won’t be enough. If this is the case for you, be sure to seek counseling. As an international student, it is something you should consider regardless of exam timetables because you are already under too much stress.

Play with a puppy!

Playing with puppies truly is an acknowledged strategy for reducing stress during exams.

It’s actually true.

And it is so effective that there are universities today that opened puppy rooms for this specific purpose. UC Berkley and Yale Law School are among them.

If your college or uni doesn’t have a dedicated stress-relief puppy room, you can get your share of tummy-scratches and slobber at the nearest animal shelter. Simply volunteer to play with the animals there and you’ll not only help yourself, you’ll also help those animals.

Seeing and feeling their happiness is an anti-stress remedy like no other. Understanding that you did this is sure to fill you with joy and pride, and you’ll return to your studies fired up to do better.


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Agatha Singer runs the agsinger.com blog, which focuses on strategies to help one find a healthy balance between business and personal life. She understands stress and the many ways it can affect one’s life, and seeks to help students cope with the burden.

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