This opinion piece was written by ex-HSC student Afrah. To get involved with our HSC community, check out the ATAR Notes Forums.
So, Year 12 exams are finally here, and you’ve spent the whole year studying for them. However, what you do on the day of your exam is just as important to set you up to achieve your personal best. Unfortunately, we are not able to control what appears on the Year 12 exams. However, it is important to focus on the things that you can control, such as how you feel going into your exams. So, here are 5 things to do on the day of your exams.
Make sure that you have a filling meal before your exam. Most exams are several hours long, and the last thing you want is being hungry during an exam, as this can be quite distracting. Research recommends eating low GI foods, as they release carbohydrates slowly and keep your blood sugar levels stable. This well keep you full and help you maintain your concentration throughout the length of your exam. Foods such as oats, eggs, fruits, veggies, fish, and proteins are all great to have before an exam. It is also important to ensure that you keep well hydrated. You may even like to have a quick snack such as a banana right before you go into your exam to give you a little boost of energy and keep you full.
Make sure that you wake up early on exam day, so that you have ample time to get ready and eat a wholesome breakfast on the day of your exam. Waking up late and rushing to get ready will simply cause unnecessary stress on exam day. It is important that we set up our mornings on exam day to run as smoothly as possible, so that we are able to go into the exams calm and unfrazzled.
Make sure that you leave home early enough such that you are able to be at the exam venue at least 20 minutes before. Like tip number 2, this will ensure that you arrive at your venue well before the exam time, and avoids the unnecessary stress of being late for your exams.
I would recommend staying away from your peers right before your exams. One thing I see all too often is students discussing all possible curve balls that could be thrown their way, or just how unprepared they are right before the exam. However, there is absolutely no point in doing this, and this will simply cloud your mind and add to your nerves. Instead, go sit in a quiet place, relax and maybe even eat a little snack, so that you are able to go into your exam with a calm and clear mind. Remain confident in yourself and stay positive, no matter how much or little you have prepared for the exam.
Deep breathing has been scientifically proven to lower stress levels. I would recommend doing some deep breathing right before your exam to get rid of any nerves, or even during the exam when you find yourself becoming a little bit anxious or nervous. One specific method I recommend is the 4, 7, 8 method, which involves breathing in for a count of 4, holding for 7 and then exhaling for 8. This method can quickly calm your nerves down and is especially great when you find yourself coming across of a difficult question or finding it difficult to think.
Do not be afraid to take a break during the exam. Going to the bathroom, splashing your face with some water, and having a sip of water can be just what you need during an exam. I found that taking a bathroom and water break when I was stuck on a question, or feeling tired allowed me to come back refreshed, focused and ready to tackle the exam. Taking breaks during the exam is certainly not a waste of time and can improve your focus.
Lastly, it is important that you see the exam for what it is: an exam! If the exam didn’t go as well as you hoped, that’s okay! You tried your best, and unfortunately, we are not able to control what is in the exam. If your exam doesn’t go as well as you hoped, take some time to relax, before putting the exam behind you, and going on to your next exam.
Please as remember that class of 2020 has faced an unprecedented year, and you should all be so proud of yourselves for just making it this far. Remember that school is almost over, summer is here, and that there is a whole world outside of the Year 12 for you to explore.