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UMAT UCAT How to stay calm and concentrate

Get Anxious when taking exams and can't concentrate? Here's some tips to help

by , 12 October, 2018

Exams are stressful for everyone, I challenge you to find someone who would disagree. While the majority of people are able to cope with the stress and complete the exam perfectly fine, there are some people who find the stress so consuming that they lose concentration and can’t perform at their peak.

I like to think of Usain Bolt when I go in for an exam. When he arrives at the athletics field before any event, he is the most prepared he can possibly be. He leaves nothing to chance. All that he has left is his performance, and sure enough, every time, he confidently strides ahead of the group to claim victory.

Now we can’t all be Usain Bolt, but the point I’m trying to make is that once you’ve put in the hard yards, all you need is a good performance and the key to this is confidence!

You have to be confident in your ability and know that you can do this. When you start getting anxious and forget this, you need to find a way that calms you down and centres your focus on the exam at hand.

Here are a few things you can try when you start to feel your confidence dwindle and anxiety creep in.

The key here is to catch it early! The longer you leave it (as I’m sure you already know), the harder it is to contain it. As soon as you start to feel your concentration fade, STOP and put your pen down and try these calming exercise:

Tip 1: Deep Breathing

Take a deep breath in and focus on filling your lungs by pushing your diaphragm down and out into your abdomen. By doing this you allow more air into your lungs and since the brain craves oxygen, the more you have on board the easier it is to calm yourself and get back on track.

Tip 2: Relaxation

Start by sitting up straight in the chair. Grab the bottom side of the seat and pull your body into the chair while simultaneously pressing your feet into the floor. Hold this position while counting to five and release the tension in your hands and feet. Completely relax your body before repeating. Do this as many times as you need to feel your anxiety dissipate.


Tip 3: Gratitude and Positive Thinking

Close your eyes for a moment, sit with your back straight and feet flat on the floor and think of 3 things you are grateful for in life and 3 things that you have done in the past 24 hours that were awesome.

Gratitude is the mother of all virtues, you cannot be fearful, angry or stressed when you feel grateful for someone or something. Think of the last thing that made you happy and feel thankful for that event.

Think about your loved ones and all that they do for you. Even something as small as being grateful for the sun shining outside - gratitude will cure your stress. Reminding yourself about all the good things that are happening in your life may just be the kick you need to get back on track and eliminate the anxiety during an exam.


Have faith that you have worked hard enough leading up to the exam that you will succeed. Keep these tips in mind going into your next exam so you don’t find yourself spiraling into anxiety woes and get the marks you worked hard for in the lead up to it.