Study Issues

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A certain amount of stress at peak academic times is normal and not always a negative thing. Perhaps you can judge whether your friend’s stress is really a problem (i.e. it is stopping them from doing things) or it is normal pre exam, deadline stress.

If it is normal pre exam/deadline stress then normalising the stress can help and reminding them that a bit of stress is helpful if it is motivating them to work.

Excessive stress can have negative effects and mean that your friend is not doing the necessary work. Here are some things you can suggest.

  1. Preparation – it might be a bit late for this, but perhaps they can take this into account for next time. Planning revision time when the subject starts and locate past exam papers early so that decisions about which things to learn are guided by the assessment.
  2. It is not wise to do an all nighter before an exam – suggest they get sufficient sleep.
  3. Do they know where the exam/group project is and how long they will need to get there?
  4. Talk about tactics for getting through the exam or assignment
  5. underline key words and make sure you understand the question
    • allocate time for the question but not too much that it takes you away from other questions
    • do the easiest bits first
    • if it is an exam – don’t leave early, instead spend time checking responses, grammar etc. Read it again!
    • if it is an exam – do the easy questions first
  6. If your friend gets panicky during exams, then teach them a breathing exercise. They can then do this for a minute in the exam if the panic starts to set in.
  7. Do they say negative things about themselves and their abilities? – Tell them about the benefits of positive self-talk. e.g. “I’m OK, I have been competent at exams and assignments in the past. I can do this.”
  8. Planning to do something enjoyable after the exam is a good idea, even if you have more study for the next exam/assignment.