Relaxation Techniques

February 15, 2017 by Ashlee Fisher

The IELTS exam is a high-stakes test that can have a huge impact on your life. You want to make sure you are not stressed out before, during, and after the big exam. Relaxing can make you feel more positive as well as perform better on the test.

Before the Exam

1. Create a realistic schedule, including study and leisure time.

Make a schedule that sets realistic studying goals for the amount of time you have before you have to take the exam. Study parts of the exam separately and on different days. Depending on when you are taking the exam, you may not be able to study everything. If so, study what is most important to you or what you need most work on.

Make sure to include breaks and activities you enjoy into this schedule. This will allow you to stay refreshed when you are studying and it will prevent you from getting burnt out.

2. Eat a well-balanced diet.

Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables, along with a good combination of proteins, grains, and fats in order to keep your body healthy. Also, drink lots of water. Try not to drink too much coffee. This could lead to you becoming more anxious.

Avoiding fatty and sugary foods can help avoid feeling bloated and sluggish leading up to the exam.

3. Exercise regularly.

Exercising will also help keep your mind and body healthy. This is also a good way to release stress after a long day of studying.

4. Get enough sleep at night.

Get enough sleep each night so that your body feels rested. Staying up late at night studying may affect your performance in the future. This also includes the night before the exam. Pulling an all-nighter could be detrimental to your overall IELTS score.

At least 30 minutes before bed, try turning off all electronic devices to give your eyes and brain a rest. Find a relaxing activity to do such as reading a book (not about the exam) or listening to music.

5. Try aromatherapy to relax.

Essential oils may help you relax such as lavender, rose, and chamomile. You can add a few drops to your pillow or to a warm bath in order to relax.

Day of the Exam

1. Go through your normal routine.

Do what you normally do when you prepare for the day. Besides possibly shifting the time when you get up, keep your regular schedule. Not leaving enough time to do everything could lead you to get stressed out.

2. Eat a hearty meal.

Eat something healthy that is going to keep you full. The day of the test is long so you want to make sure you aren’t hungry during the exam.

3. Study your notes.

Read through your notes to refresh yourself on things you studied. This will build your confidence about what you know for the test.

Do not study new information. This will only confuse you or could make you forget other things you studied.

4. Get Prepared.

Make a list of things you'll need to do before the exam as well as the things you need to take to the exam. Pack a bag and check everything off the list so you know you haven’t forgotten anything. This will help avoid unnecessary stress.

5. Arrive at the exam on time.

Be at the exam 15-30 minutes before (depending on the site and test section) so that you are able to do any last minute things before you take the test like go to the washroom.

Try not to arrive too early and compare notes with other people. This may confuse you about what you studied or it may make you feel less confident about the test. Arriving late is never an option either because you may not be able to write the test or you may not get a refund or a score.

6. Relax while you're sitting in the test room.

Close your eyes and take three deep breaths.
Focus on your task at hand.
Only think positive thoughts

During the Exam

1. Remind yourself that this is just a test.

Although this is a high stakes test, there are multiple test dates in the same month. If you don’t get the score you need this time, you will be able to do it again. Everything will be ok.

2. Read questions carefully.

Time is a factor in the IELTS test but trying to get through everything quickly can lead to carelessness. If you’ve read a question carefully and you still don’t know the answer, skip it. There may be time to go back to it so there is no need to rush.

3. Imagine you are the only person taking the test.

Checking to see if others are finished or are writing a lot only leads to anxiety. This test is only about you and another person’s score doesn’t matter. Use as much time as you need and answer as many questions as you can.

4. Take a minute to stop and think.

There is a time limit but if you are feeling flustered or having a difficult time with a section, stop and think for a minute. Don’t psych yourself out. Try to think positive thoughts. Thinking about the question for a moment without writing can allow you to get a better perspective on what it is asking.

5. Continue deep breathing exercises.

If you need to relax during the exam, focus on breathing from your diaphragm. Close your eyes and take three deep breaths. The oxygen is good for energizing your brain.

After the Exam

1. Self-reflect after the test.

Think about the positive and negative aspects of the test that you have just written. Reflecting on your strengths and weaknesses can help you improve in the future.

2. Think positively about your results.

Tell yourself that you did the best you could and all your hard work will produce a great overall score. Again, think positive thoughts and don’t stress over what you cannot change.

Every person is different so find what relaxation techniques work best for you. The more relaxed you are before the test, the more confident you will be in the test.

Ashlee has been involved in the ESL world for over ten years and has now planted her roots in Halifax, Nova Scotia. Nothing gives her more pleasure than watching students and candidates reach their language and IELTS goals.

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