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Relaxation Tips for Peak Exam Preparation

Sometimes the best test prep strategy isn't too cram right before an exam, but rather to relax and get your mind in a good place. We give you the tools to do so. 


By Douglas Eddings, Certified Learning & Development Professional

Yoga at Home

Relaxation Tips for Exam Preparation


Relaxation is essential for optimal performance on any exam. Finding a relaxation technique that works for you can help reduce test anxiety, improve memory recall and lead to better test scores. There are many different ways to achieve relaxation before an exam and even some that can be used during the exam if you get stuck on a particularly hard question or begin to lose focus. Here are six tips to try to help achieve a state of relaxation prior to an exam.


Get Enough Sleep

The best tip for relaxation prior to an exam is to ensure a full night sleep. Sleep helps the brain retain all the information that has been learned over the course of exam preparation. A restful night sleep can allow you to enter the test with a clear head and the confidence of knowing that the information is in the brain and ready for recall. Utilizing a bedtime routine and schedule can help make going to sleep the night before an exam quicker and easier. Going to bed at a time that allows for seven to eight hours of sleep will help you wake feeling rested and relaxed for the day ahead.


Deep Breathing

There are many different techniques for practicing deep breathing. Try practicing different types can help to determine which works best for you. Below are three different methods to try. First begin by taking a deep breath in for the count of four through the nose allowing your belly to rise, pause, then breath out, through the nose, for the count of four. Repeat this three times. Next technique is to breath in, again for the count of four, through the nose and filling the belly. Pause, and then exhale for the count of eight through the nose. If this is too difficult, then just use what ever count is comfortable for you, just keeping the same pattern for the length. Repeat this for three more breaths.


Finally there is the “4-7-8” breathing technique. Breath in through the nose for the count of four, hold the breath for the count of seven and exhale for the count of eight. Repeat this three more times. Give each method a try; decide on which one feels most natural and relaxing for you. Deep breathing is a great tool to master because it can be done at any time. If you find you are losing focus on a test, are stuck on a particular question or even just need a quick break taking these deep breaths can bring you back to the task at hand.


Guided Meditation/Visualization

Similarly to the deep breathing, guided meditations and visualizations can help you quickly relax and can be done anywhere. However, they must be practiced in order to work well. There are so many guided meditations and visualizations available for listening on music streaming service and the Internet. A quick search will reveal thousands. Taking the time to find which ones work for you and practicing them up to the exam will help you to draw upon them when needed. Meditation can help clear the mind of negative thoughts or self-doubt and allow

you to quickly refocus.



Stretching before an exam can help relax the body and mind. It can be done the in the evening before bed or in the morning as part of the wake up routine. Either way when the body is loosened up it is easier for the mind to relax. Keep in mind that our mental thoughts can manifest physical responses. If you are stressed and anxious about a test, our bodies react by becoming tense in our muscles, leading to the inability to relax. Stretching can help reduce the physical symptoms of stress and lead to easier relaxation before exam day.


Physical Exercise

Incorporating routine exercise into the daily schedule can help the brain and body feel more relaxed come test day. Whether it is getting up to go for a short walk, going to the gym or catching a workout class the morning of the test can significantly reduce test anxiety leading to a more relaxed state of mind. Try to work in some sort of movement every day, this will help not only come test day but can help reduce stress in every day life. Giving the body and outlet for some of the stress, as well as giving the brain a chance to focus on something other than the test can lead to a more relaxed state prior to the exam.


Listen to Calming Music

Calming music can be a significant stress reliever. Listening to whatever music makes you feel calm can have a profound physical relaxation response. Figure out what music causes you to feel deeply relaxed-it could be a favorite play list, one with music designed to trigger calmness in the brain know as “Alpha Waves” music, or any other type of music of your choice. Try listening to it as you are getting ready in the morning, before you go to bed and see what puts you in a state of relaxation. Listen to this music on the morning of the test and even on the way to the exam to help enter the test site feeling relaxed and ready.


Relaxation before an exam is achievable, however it does take some work to figure out what techniques work best for you. While you can utilize the deep breathing exercises immediately, the guided meditations and bedtime routine take a bit more work. Figuring out what type of music puts you into a state of relaxation can be a very powerful tool as it can be done anywhere you have access to that music. Physical exercise, aside from the many other benefits, can help tire out the body and mind leading to relaxation. Using a combination of any of these tips can help with relaxation before an exam. If you enter into the exam more relaxed, chances are the score you earn will be better than if you enter in stressed out. Keeping your mind relaxed can help with memory recall and focus on the test leading to a more positive outcome.

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