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Expert tips to prepare for exams

UAlbany StudentsFinal exam time can often be stressful and nerve wracking. While some stress can actually be a positive motivator, being too nervous or tense can be problematic, especially if it interferes with your test taking performance. With less than two weeks left in the semester, it's time to focus on what you can do to get yourself through this demanding time.

Here's some advice to help make the end-of-the-semester experience less stressful. These tips are offered by Dolores Cimini, PhD, director of Middle Earth, UAlbany's Peer Counseling service.

Deal with your anxiety:
Try to determine the source of your test anxiety. If it stems from a lack of preparation on your part, your anxiety is considered a rational response. However, if you believe that you are prepared for the test, but are still panicking or overreacting, this may be an irrational response. Either way, it can be very helpful to know how to work with their effects.

Prepare for those tests and assignments:
This is the best way to minimize anxiety. Here are a few tips for preparing for an exam:

  • UAlbany Students StudyingAvoid cramming for a test. Cramming can produce high levels of anxiety and is not helpful in trying to learn a large amount of material.
     
  • Instead of trying to memorize all of the intricate details from an entire semester's worth of notes and readings, try combining everything and learning the larger, main concepts first.
     
  • When studying, try to create questions that could possibly be asked on the test. Try integrating ideas from lectures, notes, books and other readings.
     
  • If it is impossible for you to cover all of the material for the test, choose one portion that you know you will be able to cover and present well.

Change your attitude:
UAlbany Student StudyingIt can help to change the way you think about taking tests. A test will not predict your future success or determine your self worth. Changing your attitude can actually help you enjoy studying and learning. Here are some ways you can work on changing your attitude:

  • Remind yourself that it is only a test and there will be others.
     
  • Reward yourself when the test is over.
     
  • Think of yourself in a positive way. Think of all the hard work you have done already or think of what you do know.
     
  • Plan ways to improve next semester.

Don't forget the basics:
Don't forget about yourself and what you need. This means thinking of yourself as a total person, not just as a test taker.

  • Maintain proper nutrition and exercise, and continue some of your social or recreational activities. It is ok to take a break once in a while.
     
  • Make sure you get plenty of sleep. You can't function at your best if you are tired.
     
  • Do something relaxing when you feel adequately prepared.

Again, try to do something relaxing before the test. Cramming minutes before can produce anxiety. Get to the test early. This way, you can pick out your seat away from anxiety-ridden classmates and other distractions. Now, you're ready to take the test... Good luck!

Related Links:
Middle Earth
Counseling Services Center

 
 

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Brain Food!
Fruit and Vegetables
Did you know that a poor diet can lead to fatigue, weakness and a decreased ability to concentrate? UAlbany's nutritionists offer up their top tips on what to eat as you prepare for and take exams.

1. Watch out for high calorie "comfort foods." Eating to control your emotions can result in bingeing on high fat foods, which are low in nutrients. Eat smaller portions or substitute with more nutritious options like fresh fruits and veggies, pretzels, low-fat popcorn, whole grain crackers, low-fat yogurt and cheeses.

2. Avoid lots of caffeine. Caffeinated products can cause dips and surges in your energy levels. It can also give you the jitters and disturb your concentration. Instead, get more sleep, exercise to renew your energy and substitute with caffeine-free beverages like fruit and vegetable juices, fat-free or low fat milk and water.

3. A well balanced diet is better than caffeine, sugar and vitamins. It's going to give you the staying-power you need, the energy and the adequate nutrients. Evaluate your diet and physical activity level online at Interactive Healthy Eating Index

4. Make exercise a priority and don't skip meals! Taking time out to eat a healthy snack or meal can energize you and take away that yearning for unhealthy food that undermines your energy and stamina needed for studying.

Got questions? Ask the nutritionists! Karen Kettlewell at 442-5958 or Cheri Domanico at 437-3672. Visit Campus Dining for times and venues available at campus center meal swipes.

If you are interested in receiving a free monthly electronic nutrition newsletter, email your UAlbany email address to Karen Kettlewell.
 

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