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Most universities hold a Freshers’ Week or a similar event. Its chief purpose is to help new students settle in quickly. As well as a series of informative talks, there is usually an energetic social programme and senior students will be around to help you to find your feet. Your university will probably send you an information pack ahead of your arrival.

Tuesday, 28 April 2009

May - Practical tips for combating the symptoms of exam anxiety

Sleeplessness. This is commonplace and does little harm in the short term. Get up, have a snack, do some light reading or other work, then return to bed. Avoid caffeine (for example, tea, coffee and cola) for several hours before going to bed.

Lack of appetite/upset tummy. Again, these symptoms are common. Eat what you can, but take sugary sweets into the exam (and/or drinks, if allowed) to keep your energy levels up. If allowed, take some water to avoid dehydration.

Fear of the unknown. Confirm dates and times of exams. Check any paperwork you have been given regarding the format and timing of the exam. Take a mascot or lucky charm with you if this helps. In extreme cases, it might be a good idea to visit the exam room, so you can become familiar with the location.

Worries about timekeeping. Get a reliable alarm clock or a new battery for an old one. Arrange for an alarm phone call. Ask a friend or relative to make sure you are awake and out of bed on time. Make reliable travel arrangements, so that you arrive early.

Blind panic during an exam. To reduce the symptoms, try doing some relaxation exercises (see below) and then return to your paper. If you still feel bad, explain how you feel to an invigilator. Ask to go for a supervised walk outside if this might help. If you have problems with the wording of a specific question, ask to speak to the departmental representative at the exam (if they have left the room, they can be phoned).

Feeling tense. Shut your eyes, take several deep breaths, do some stretching and relaxing muscle movements. During exams, it may be a good idea to do this between questions, and possibly to have a complete rest for a few seconds or so. Prior to exams, try some exercise activity, or escape temporarily from your worries by watching a movie.

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