Many of the time I have been asked by several folks, “How do you prepare for an exam?” I will tell you my secret. I get a little bit nervous when I am about to take a long test or exam. A 4-hour exam is not my cup of coffee. I have a little attention deficit disorder and I am not a fast reader.
However, I have now managed to pass a few PMI exams and a 5 hour AACE exam. The main part of my technique is having success with the management of anxiety levels. In the days leading up to the PMP examination, my anxiety levels can get higher than regular. As prepared as I felt after studying, I still felt stressed a few days before the exam. Granted, it helps to be under normal levels of stress.
Nervousness is useful but concentration and quick thinking helps; hence test-taking performance is enhanced.
At least a few days before the exam day
I start paying more attention to my body’s needs. I have been occupied with studying for a longer period of time and then I do some things that will predetermine my body’s health and focus during the important day.
- Limit caffeine intake – Studies have shown that caffeine can trigger a number of anxiety-inducing sensations like sweaty palms, elevated heart rate, and dizziness. Coffee is great while studying for the exam, but I cut back a few days before. I already have a little bit of anxiety for the test, so I do not want another cup.
- Drink more water – Water is a necessary thing. Not only do our bodies need water to survive but so do our brains. Research shows that the brain performs at optimal levels when a person is well-hydrated. Drink plenty of water throughout the day. Dehydration is another trigger for anxiety.
- Eat healthy foods – Eating nachos and pizza while studying will usually leave me feeling happy and bloated. It is the aftereffects of those types of foods which I try to condemn. I actually do become sluggish. So, thinking ahead, I pile up on fresh, whole fruits and veggies that will sharpen my mind and reduce stress. Some of my favorite things to eat are bananas, carrots, and grapes. I also like to eat yogurt and cereal.
- Exercise – I prefer to get some physical exercise to work off stress and pressure. Physical movements are helpful for blow off steam, decrease anxiety and relax muscles while helping to disburse any extra nervous energy. Going to the gym, riding a bike, jumping in the lake or taking a nice walk around a park is a good time spent.
- Sleep – I try and get sufficient sleep the week leading up to the examination. When I am tired, I become fewer patients and more agitated. I will take the exam the day after I have had a day off or two from work so that I can make sure I have had 8-9 hours of quality sleep a few days in a row. Day of the exam
On the day of the test,
I like to have some eggs, banana, and an energy drink. I ensure to drink it a couple of hours before the test to ensure all systems are a go!
These are my experiences and lessons learned. Everyone has a unique body that operates with more or less reaction to the chemicals that we put in it. Generally, some tried true approach, such as those I use to take care of my anxiety, will be basically helpful ways for others to try.