Strategy for Preparation of GS Mains and Practice Some Relaxation Techniques Part 3

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How to Manage Stress During Preparation and Examination

Plan Your Time Wisely

  • Throughout the year, make an effort to keep up with weekly readings and assignments. This will spare you from playing ‘catch‐up’ before exams begin.

  • As exams approach, give yourself ample time in which to study ‐ if possible, spread this time over 2‐3 days.

  • Set aside portions of your day as ‘study blocks’ ‐ 2‐3 hours of concentrated study time.

  • Arrange for study blocks to occur during your peak concentration hours (i.e., if you do your best work in the morning, schedule a study block after breakfast).

  • Intersperse study blocks with other activities such as tea breaks with friends, exercise, etc.

State‐Specific Learning

  • The mood or state we are in when we study is the mood or state, we should be in during exam time so as to best remember the information studied.

While Studying…

  • Try to create a study environment that will be similar to the environment in which you will take your test. This usually means a quiet environment with few distractions (no TV, no radio, no mobiles etc.).

  • If you plan to be well‐rested and mentally alert during the actual exam, make sure that you are well‐rested and mentally alert while studying for the exam.

  • Since exercise has proven to be effective in heightening concentration levels and performance, plan to exercise both before studying and before the exam.

Pitfalls of Perfectionism

  • Perfectionists tend to have unrealistically high expectations of them and often establish personal goals that are virtually impossible to achieve. Fears of failure to achieve these goals and expectations can sometimes lead to mental and emotional paralysis.

  • During exams, it is not uncommon for students to fall into the pitfall of perfectionism. How many times have you heard yourself or others say, “I want to be in IAS or IPS or IFS!” While at times, this statement seems achievable and motivating; at other times it can be destructive and self‐defeating. Fearing that one cannot make those grades in an examination might actually lead some students to procrastinate on studying, or suffer from panic‐attacks come examination time ‐ events that will probably cause these students’ fears to come true.

Rather than stumble into the pitfalls of perfectionism, approach exam time with an attitude of well‐prepared optimism: ∙

  • Prior to the exam, schedule your study time wisely and make good use of the time you set aside.

  • As you enter into the exam room, say to yourself, “I am well‐prepared for this test and will do the very best that I can on this exam.” Saying this to yourself several times will not only help to raise your confidence, but will also help calm your pre‐exam nerves.

  • Once you have turned the test, forget about it and leave the room feeling relieved that it’s over, and proud that you performed at the best of your ability.

Avoid Exam‐Time Exhaustion

  • No matter how much we do to prevent it, exams are almost always going to be accompanied by stress. Therefore, the best thing to do is to manage the stress and make sure that it does not break down your physical, mental or emotional health.

Some Healthy Tips to Get You through Exam Time

  • Eat a nutritious, well‐balanced diet ‐ your body will need those extra vitamins and minerals. Eat at least three meals each day; and moderate your intake of fat, sugar, alcohol and caffeine.

  • Get plenty of sleep and try to make your sleeping patterns as regular as possible.

  • Exercise! After sitting in the library or at your desk for long periods of time, exercise will give you that extra boost of energy and liveliness.

Practice Some Relaxation Techniques

  • Diaphragmatic breathing ‐ close your eyes; breathe in and out slowly and completely; placing your hands on your abdomen, concentrate on it expanding as you breathe in and contracting as you breathe out.

  • Laughter ‐ proven to have a physiological calming effect; encourage laughter by reading a funny book, watching a comedy on TV or at the movies, joking with friends, etc.

  • Make time for personal time. Doing an activity that you enjoy will improve your mood and will help you return to your studies feeling refreshed and relaxed.

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