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Self Control Strategies for Students
Before Exams

self control strategy

By Susan Wallace

We all have these periods of incredible stress in our life. This could be work related pressures, exams, harsh break-ups, or distant relatives visit. While sometimes it gives a needed adrenalin boost to stay awake and active, most of all it just prevents us from achieving our goals and living a fulfilling, anxiety-free life. The problem with particularly student life is that the source of stress cannot be avoided, it is constant. You have to prepare and take exams and tests, so the stress is there.

However, there are certain techniques and methods that will help you fight anxiety, and one of them is self-control. In the following article, we will get acquainted with different types of self-control, how to achieve them, the strategies to keep calm under pressure and fight exam tension. Keep reading for surprising facts and useful advice!

Kinds of Self Control

Generally speaking, self-control is a skill to regulate your own state and actions in the face of hardships. That is why by improving this aspect you can actually transform many spheres of your life, including fighting an exam pressure.

Psychologists divide self-control into three groups: Impulse Control, Emotional Control, and Movement Control. The first one stands for the ability to think before you act; the second one corresponds to the emotional regulation in connection with goals and aims. And finally, the third type is pretty obvious from the name, it is control over your own body. All three types are highly interlaced and as studies show can be trained just like a muscle.

self control strategy

Marshmallow Experiment

If you are not convinced in the apparent connection between self-control and successful stress-free test mark, here is a story about a marshmallow, some kids, and a lot of patience. Over five decades ago, Walter Mischel had decided to conduct an experiment involving 5-year-olds from the nursery on Stanford's campus. Children were given a simple choice, either eat a marshmallow now if they cannot stand waiting in front of the plate of sweets, or wait for later and have two marshmallows instead.

However, the most amazing part of the research took place a year later, when it turned out that kids who had more self-control and waited were overall much more successful at school among peers, and were even fitter than the other group! Thus the consequences of the better execution of conscious self-regulation are crucial throughout our whole life. Let’s see how to increase self-control and manage to go through the exam times without any problems, using the tips drawn out from this experiment.

  • Stay away from the temptations. During the above-mentioned venture, it was noted that those kids who were physically closer to the sweets, pretending to eat or smell them were on their way to disaster, in other words – to eat. So keep yourself as far from any distractions as possible, do not think that you will be able to hang out with friends just for one hour and go home study. Just stay home and study, full stop. 

  • Use your imagination. This is one of the best exam tips you will ever hear. Do not make preparation boring and static. Create an interesting framework, find some unusual ways of information systematization. Nowadays, there are so many apps that can help you with that, use your gadgets to their fullest, get together with friends and make trivia out of the test questions, etc. Children who pretended that marshmallows were not real or invented other imaginary obstacles could hold on longer, so if you are creative, you can be more determined and concentrated on the task.
self control strategy
  • Create plans. The "if/then" methods have proven to be very effective over time. Create not just vague, distant plans to study more next week, but the concrete one. "If I study this book tomorrow, I will get extra free time for the next exam," etc. Be more specific and manage your study schedule according to your needs. 

  • Avoid stress. Easier said than done. Studies have shown that stress basically blocks our long-time perception and ability to work towards not the most immediate goals. Try to implement things that relax you into the process of studying for exams. Pay attention to the duration of such breaks, but they are absolutely essential. Go for a walk with your dog, relax with your favorite TV show, take a bath with essential oils – whatever keeps you happy.
  • Eat the right food. This point might seem excessive, but the right type of food can prolong your productivity and avoid mental overwhelming with studies. Complex carbohydrates, nuts, dark chocolate, eggs – all of these will help you study more and exhaust yourself less. Stay hydrated and definitely get enough sleep.
  • Do not go big. Exactly! It is extremely easy to become overwhelmed and unmotivated when you see the huge amount of work that should be done. So start with small things and maybe even things that do not require much involvement. Prepare your books, desk, write a plan for your assignment, learn some basics. Step by step you will feel more in control of undertaking any task! 

  • Do sports. Any kind of physical activity will "reprogram" your brain by giving it endorphins, hormones of happiness, and changing the setting will help with the productivity problem. Do not do anything super tiring; go for a jog or a walk in a park, do some yoga. Your body and brain will certainly be thankful for this.
Authors bio:
Susan Wallace recently graduated from the University of Warwick and started working as a freelanced author right away. In spite of the slight work experience, she is already one of the top writing experts on the local news website.
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