Test Anxiety? How to Relax and Stay Focused

The end of the semester is drawing near and summer is right around the corner! The only thing standing between you and binging on Netflix at the beach is one thing: final exams. The week of finals is always stressful and can cause anxiety in many college students. Last week, we gave tips on how to stay organized and prep for finals. This time, we have some specific ways to get rid of that test anxiety in the hours leading up to your exams! Here are 9 ways to relax and reduce your stress right before you take that test.

1. Make sure you’re eating right. Too much caffeine, processed foods, artificial sweeteners, and heavy preservatives right before your exam can make you tired and sluggish, and affect your memory negatively. Instead, opt for fruits, vegetables, nuts, and other healthy snacks and meals for the hours leading up to the exam. And don’t go to the test on an empty stomach! Make sure you eat a good meal beforehand.

2. Get some sleep! This goes without saying, but it’s important to get enough sleep before an exam. Cramming for 12 hours straight is only going to make you more tired and groggy.

3. Stop working/studying at least 30 minutes before going to bed the night before the test. Put away your laptop and phone: the blue lights from these screens can mess with your sleep cycle and make it harder to sleep. You’ll feel more refreshed in the morning!

4. Take a bath with Epsom salts. Epsom salt has magnesium sulfate, which helps promote calmness and relaxation.

5. Try aromatherapy! Essential oils like lavender, lemon, bergamot, clary sage, and jasmine are great for relaxing those nerves and clearing your mind. There are several ways you can use essential oils:

  • Put a few drops in your bath or shower.
  • Use a diffuser so that the oils are diffused all through the room.
  • Apply it directly onto your body, such as around your temple or your wrist. Be careful when you do this because undiluted oils are very strong and can irritate the skin. Make sure you have essential oils that are diluted in a carrier oil, such as coconut oil.

6. Focus on your breathing. It may sound silly, but deep breathing exercises can really help calm your mind. When you’re stressed, you often take short, shallow breaths and are not getting proper oxygen amounts through your blood. The next time you feel anxious, stop and take a few moments to inhale and exhale deeply. Repeat this breathing exercise (or find some other ones here) several times until you feel more calm.

7. Stretching and yoga can actually help calm your mind by releasing tension that’s built up in your muscles. Take a few minutes the night before your exam and the day of to really stretch out your muscles. You can even try a few yoga poses suggested here!

8. Treat yourself! The day before the exam, go get something small or do a short activity that you find enjoyable. This could be a sweet treat, a walk around the park, or whatever will help you relax and feel special.

9. Think positive! This is sometimes easier said than done, but part of why you may be so stressed is because you keep thinking of the worst that could happen. Instead of psyching yourself out, try to stay positive and surround yourself with people who will cheer you up and keep you optimistic. Remember, it’s just one exam and it’ll be over soon!

Cautions For Using Professor Review Sites

When I go to create my class schedule for the coming semester, I tend to look for a few things. The required classes for my major and minor, the time of the class, and the professor that is teaching the class are the top three factor I take into account when choosing my classes. The one thing I have found the most problem determining is which professor I should take the class with. Enter professor rating sites.

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Sites such as ratemyprofessors.com are a staple to students choosing classes in today’s college environment. However, are these sites really accurate?

Extreme Posts: These posts on this site are very much in the fashion of sites like yelp and other review sites. Many of the posts I have found on my professors have been subjective and seem to be mainly written from the extreme ends of student opinions. This lends itself to extreme reviews either highly praising or critiquing the teacher.

Outdated Reviews: While using these sites, the date that the review was created is also important to take into account when deciding the validity of the review. The professor’s curriculum can change very frequently in the college world as well as professors changing their teaching styles to try and reach their students in a more effective way. This means that a review created in 2008 will likely not be as reliable as one created in 2018.

Relying solely based on reviews of professor rating sites is not recommended, as this information can be a hit or miss in accuracy. Here are some suggested actions in addition to using review sites:

Email the Professor: It’s possible to email the professor and as them questions personally or even get a copy of the syllabus if they have taught the class before. Although these sources are convenient, it does not always provide the best information on the professor.

Ask Others: Check around with students you know to see if they have taken the professor you are checking. Because it is a student you know, you can better understand and trust their advice.

How to Choose Your College Classes

It’s that time of the year…. time to decide what classes to take this upcoming semester! It’s important to know how to pick your classes so you can graduate on time, and get the most out of your college experience and your money!  Here are a few tips to guide you in the process of choosing your classes.

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1. Start the process early.

Avoid the stress, and don’t wait until the last minute, or else… well, let’s just say, you may end up with one crazy schedule!

2. Check your graduation requirements.

Review your school’s course catalog. If you have already declared your major, choose some courses that fulfill general requirements in that area. If you have yet to declare a major, get your core requirements out of the way or pick some classes in subjects that spark your interest. Some classes require pre-requisites, therefore make sure you have met those requirements before enrolling.

3. Read RateMyProfessor reviews.

Head over to ratemyprofessor.com and read through the reviews.  You can’t always trust the reviews on this website, but they give you an insight of what the class/professor is like. If you have friends who have taken those professors before, ask them about the course workload and the experience they had in the class.

4. Balance the types of classes.

If you can avoid it, don’t take multiple classes that similar or with the same professor. Needless to say, it can get a little overwhelming studying for similar subjects throughout the semester. Variety will keep you sane!

5. Count your credits.

Be aware of how many credits your classes are and add them up, to ensure that you meet the full-time student requirements. You don’t want to be short a credit or two!

6. Create different schedule options.

Now that you have your list of classes you are interested in, it’s time to work them into a potential schedule. Here comes the really the tricky part, you will need to decide whether you want to take your classes in the morning, afternoon, or certain days of the week, especially if you currently have a job or are involved in any school activities. Create at least two different versions of schedules to consider. [Feel free to print out our handy Class Schedule Planner Grid to assist you build multiple schedules.]

7. Visit your advisor. 

I must admit, some advisors can be cluessless and useless, or definitely help you get your life together! If your advisor falls into the “helpful” category,  he/she will likely have advice about what they think works or doesn’t work and may even suggest classes you hadn’t even considered. If you feel like your advisor isn’t much help, try talking to a different advisor in your department.

8. Schedule as soon as possible.

Once you have your final draft, go sign up for your classes. You definitely don’t want to miss out enrolling in a class you MUST take this semester. Remember, classes have a limited seat capacity, therefore they can fill up very quick.

Best of luck this semester! 🙂