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Some help to cope with actuarial exam stress

When exam time comes around, actuarial students often talk about suffering from exam stress. Exam burn-out from the added pressure of exams on top of day to day work can take its toll.  Although individuals in the actuarial field may not need tips on how to do well in exams, there is a risk of becoming overwhelmed by the stress and workload of the process. So how do you stay on top of your study game while also holding down a full-time actuarial job, in a highly competitive field?  

Part of the answer is to make sure you look after yourself. The most important way to combat these stress factors is to incorporate balance in your life. While it is vital to study for your exams, your top priority should be your physical and mental health. 

Excercise

As humans we are not supposed to sit at a desk for hours at a time. The very act of sitting still for too long has been proven as unhealthy and would certainly have a negative impact on study. The problems may manifest themselves as physical problems with your back or your eyesight, or mental health problems including stress or anxiety. Remind yourself to take a break and walk around for a few minutes every hour.  

Better still, one thing that seems to help people get out of a study funk and refresh their brain is to get some fresh air. As simple as it sounds, a 20-minute walk can do wonders for our body and our mind and will have you feeling ready to hit the books again with a new mindset. 

Eat Well

Another tip is to make sure that you are maintaining a balanced diet. It is all too easy to spend a day working/studying, and then to order a takeaway instead of cooking. Preparing your own meals can help alleviate this. Consider making a few portions of dinner to freeze or bringing in a packed lunch that you made the night before. Food you make yourself will have less added salt and sugars and will keep you feeling energized and motivated. Some good “brain-foods” include salmon, broccoli, eggs, nuts and oranges. 

Prior preparation and planning prevent poor performance. Learning theory can be a particularly hard part of study. Try to break each subject down to smaller manageable chunks. Writing concise notes will help you learn and probably improve your handwriting at the same time which could give you that extra point or two! Once you have your concise notes think about how you would apply the knowledge to answering questions. From there create even smaller bullet points. Eventually you will end up with what looks like a small amount of material but it becomes a handy prompt when you are studying. If you can, try to get practice questions to help you learn. 

Good luck to all of you taking exams this season!