By Geoff Horne.
You walk out of day three of the Common Final Examination (CFE), your hands still shaking as you ride the escalator. All around you, fellow exam survivors murmur and groan. Outside, hopefully, some co-workers and friends are there to greet you: “Congratulations, you’re done!”
Well, sort of. Now begin the longest two and a half months of your life. This time can be more stressful for you than the summer you spent preparing—but only if you let it. Consider the following tips for managing your anxiety level as you await your results.
Don’t discuss the exam, especially with coworkers
If you work in a public practice, chances are there’s a spirit of competition among colleagues at your firm. Comparing yourself to others will only leave you more stressed out. A bit of camaraderie with your fellow exam writers is a good way to blow off steam after the CFE, but keep your discussions general.
Don’t review your answers
Discussing or reviewing the answers to questions serves no purpose besides driving you into panic. Put specific questions and answers out of your mind. That will be hard for the first few days, but it gets easier with time.
Spend time with family and friends
Socialize and let yourself relax with the people who have supported you throughout the summer, or maybe those you avoided because you felt too busy studying! Besides helping you to forget about the long wait for results, friends and family will give you perspective. No doubt they’ll remind you that at the end of the day, it’s just an exam. Try to fill your weekends with fun social activities.
Going on vacation right after the CFE is a great distraction because it keeps your brain occupied, and you’ll build pleasant new memories to replace your vivid recollections from each day of the exam. There’s no better way to refresh your mind before heading back to work.
Try to avoid letting your mind wander to “what if I fail” scenarios. No matter how difficult you thought the CFE was, remember that you wrote it with a group of peers who have similar experience and knowledge levels as you—or in some cases, less. If you struggled with a question or case, most people in the exam probably did too. The sooner you focus your attention on other things in your life, the sooner your exam anxiety will pass.
Staying positive is one thing, but proclaiming to your friends that you’re sure you passed won’t help you or your fellow writers. Everybody who takes the CFE goes through similar phases: one week you might feel confident, and the next you may think you bombed the exam. Publicly showing your confidence will only put more pressure on you to pass.
Get some exercise
Studies have shown that staying active reduces stress. Besides releasing endorphins that make you feel happier and more positive, exercise gives you more energy for the rest of the day. It can also improve your quality of sleep and your body image. Ultimately, this will help brighten your mood and raise your confidence level.
Indulge in comedy and laughter
Laughter is the best medicine, so immerse yourself in it. Focus on uplifting and relaxing forms of media rather than intense and depressing content. Try stand-up comedy specials, or binge-watch any series that cracks you up.
Roanette Morency assisted with article content.
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