Exam tips: Feed mind & body to tackle ATAR stress

Edward ScownGeraldton Guardian
Geraldton Senior High School's class of 2021 isn't quite done yet, with a week of ATAR exams ahead of them.
Camera IconGeraldton Senior High School's class of 2021 isn't quite done yet, with a week of ATAR exams ahead of them.

Geraldton’s Year 12 students are staring down the barrel of ATAR exams, which for most start this week.

The key to success is of course a good study regime, but there is more students can do to prepare themselves for what can be the most stressful week of their lives.

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While you can’t eliminate exam stress, Edith Cowan University senior lecturer and psychologist Dr Mandie Shean believes with the right mindset the natural stress response can be bent to your advantage.

“Elevated heart rate, mind racing, we read that as a threat, but that’s normal when you’re facing a challenge,” she said.

“Stress increases the oxygen supply to your brain, improving your focus, energy, and determination. These only work against you when you think you don’t have the resources to cope with the challenge.

“You have to decide that this is an exciting thing.”

Elevated heart rate, mind racing, we read that as a threat, but that’s normal when you’re facing a challenge...You have to decide that this is an exciting thing.

- Dr Mandie Shean

Students walking into an exam room have similar biological responses to a footballer walking onto the field. It’s the body getting ready for action, and according to Dr Shean: “action is the best way to reduce stress.”

Parents also have an important role to play, creating the environment to get kids into the right mindset.

“There needs to be a sense of normality in the home,” Geraldton Senior High School principal Greg Kelly said.

“It is important that during the exam period, students eat the right foods, drink lots of water, sleep well and take time to have breaks during their study by doing some healthy exercise or simply chilling out.”

It is important that during the exam period, students eat the right foods, drink lots of water, sleep well and take time to have breaks during their study by doing some healthy exercise or simply chilling out.

- Geraldton Senior High School principal Greg Kelly

BREAKFAST: Eggs, whole grain toast, or cereal will start the day off right. For the more adventurous, Prof Devine recommends a green smoothie of spinach, avocado and banana.

LUNCH: A bit more conventional. Lean meat and salad in a wholegrain wrap, or a pasta salad to “boost your brain power.”

DINNER: Vegetables are the main event — teenagers rejoice. Stir fry vegies with beef, stuff a burrito with beans and salad, or bake potatoes, carrots and broccoli to go with oily fish.

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