There are four main ways to help handle stress.

1. Realise that ATAR is just a number

The rest of your life does not depend on this year. You will always have options and chances are your future career will not even need a degree. 

It if does, there are alternate pathways into university (research them if you know what degree you want to do ). 

No one will ever ask you about you ATAR in the future, it’s just not what people do. Do the best you can and work hard, that is the key to success in almost anything.

2. Understand stress and use it to your advantage

It’s also useful to know that stress is the biological response to a situation that is dangerous and is the body’s way of heightening a person’s awareness, strength and energy.

Sometimes just understanding that will help you use it to your advantage – that what professional singers, performers and athletes do.

Recognise the stress, take 3 deep breaths and interpret it as excitement designed to help you perform better.

3. Reduce stress by facing your fears

Stress usually occurs in situations you are not familiar with. By doing exam questions under timed conditions regularly, you’ll find that you stress levels will reduce.

Get a bunch of exam questions together, count up the marks, put on a countdown timer on your phone (1 mark = 1.5 minutes) and complete the questions under test conditions. Do this even if you don't think you can't answer any questions.

It will be difficult to begin with and probably stress you out more, but the more often you do this, the less scary the real thing will be.

Ideally you want to make 50% or more of your study time on doing tests, but you may have to build up to this.

You want to reduce the amount of time you spend on textbook questions as these do not tend to simulate your Tests and Exams. If you are finding the textbook questions relatively easy, then do less of them and do exam questions instead.

If you do this regularly, every time you study, you're stress in general will reduce.

4. Let yourself win!

It's important to see where you improve, even if it is just by a little! Going from 20% to 25% is improvement and should be celebrated.

Often students feel bad because they aren't getting a certain mark in their tests and practise tests.

The truth is that the tests themselves are designed to be really hard, and the average mark is quite often under 50%. This means that scoring 50% in a test in Year 11 or Year 12, can be the same as having scored 70% of higher in earlier year levels. 

So when you do exam-questions under timed conditions, you may find you get zero marks to begin with and that's totally fine. Recognise this is normal and that you are learning how to do a style of questions you haven't practised much before. It's a learning process.

Once you finish the test, look at the solutions, then do the test again under timed conditions. Repeat doing the test, marking yourself and looking at the solutions until you get a mark you are happy with, then move on to the next test.

Doing this builds confidence and will help reduce stress and enable you to get a better mark. 

Give yourself a pat on the back for every small improvement. It means you're going in the right direction.

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