Exam nerves can affect your health in many ways, impairing your immune system, focus, and memory, and stopping you from getting restorative sleep. Often, stress is caused by a fear of failure – an emotion which even the most assiduous students can face. To nip stress in the bud and use exams as an opportunity to reveal all you know, manage your study time and follow these tips to enhance memory and concentration and perform at your very best.
Good Sleep is Key
Sleepdeprivation negatively affects the working memory and one’s ability to focus. A recent study published in the Journal of Neuroscience found that during deep sleep (also called slow-wave sleep), important electrical activity takes place in the brain that ‘replays memories’, thus consolidating what we have learned. Another study found that students who stay up all night cramming for exams are actually doing themselves more harm than good, since “”Memory recall and ability to maintain concentration are much improved when an individual is rested. By preparing early and being able to better recall what you have studied, your ability to perform well on exams is increased.”
Stocking Up on Antioxidant Power
Antioxidants are important for optimal brain functioning, since they help the body rid itself of toxins, and battle inflammation. These days, there are brain pills for students which are aimed at improving focus, energy, and memory. If you are interested in supplementing your diet, opt for supplements which have antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and stress-busting abilities. They should also help you relax and get a good night’s sleep despite being natural and having no side-effects.
Physical Activity and Mindfulness Pursuits
To ensure you are completely focused during your next exam, battle stress daily through regular exercise. Studies have shown that working up a sweat releases endorphins (‘feel good’ chemicals) into the body, helping to keep anxiety at bay. Holistic pursuits such as mindful meditation and yoga, meanwhile, reduce stress hormone levels, but also improve mood, increase energy, and enhance sleep.
Dual-N-Back Brain Training
Doing well at exams primarily involves managing your time well and studying throughout the term, not leaving the bulk of the work to the end. However, you can also boost your working memory by playing brain games. One game that has proven successful in studies is Dual-N-Back, which prompts players to remember both visual and auditory clues. The game is challenging indeed, but also lots of fun! It is similar to the battery-operated memory game, Simon, but taken to the next level.
To hone your memory and concentration, tackle exams form a multifaceted perspective. Tire yourself out physically during the day and sleep well at night. Consider supplements if you need a little boost, and rely on mindfulness to help you fight stress. Finally, try to see exams as an opportunity to show your passion for you chosen field rather than a ‘make or break’ challenge.