How to Manage Assessment Stress
Assessment Weeks at ICTheatre can be a pretty stressful time – preparing for practical assessments while also making sure to meet those essay deadlines can be a bit overwhelming, and sometimes you don’t know where to start! So I’ve put together this quick guide on how to survive assessment week… and hopefully, smash it at the same time!
1. Manage your time wisely
Whether you’re a ‘plan every hour of every day on a colour coded timetable’ stress head like me, or more of a ‘go with the flow’ kind of student, assessment week is one of those times when good time management is vital, no matter who you are! The likelihood is you’ve got your acting assessment one day, and your cultural perspectives essay due the next, and you need to get ready for them both! Plan your time accordingly for this and it won’t be a problem; 1 hour to rehearse your acting piece, 2 hours writing time, 1-hour singing practice with plenty of set breaks in between, and it will be a breeze! Make sure you know your due dates so you give each module plenty of time, and try sticking to the times you’ve set yourself – this way nothing gets missed, and hopefully you won’t get too overwhelmed by it all. And if you’re reconsidering that colour-coded timetable, I know someone who’s pretty good at making them…
2. Look after yourself
Assessment week is never going to go well if you run yourself into the ground! Which means you have to take care of your body and what it needs. Consistent healthy meals keep both the brain and the body working smoothly, and 2+ litres of water a day will help keep those vocal folds clear and ready to sing. If your body is exhausted from dance rehearsals; let it rest! You won’t do yourself any favours showing up to your acting assessment really stiff because you practised your dance routine 30 times the night before, so rehearse in moderation and keep yourself healthy. It’s easy to feel a lot of pressure during assessments, and that you just need to rehearse again and again and again until it’s PERFECT. But nine times out of ten you’ve already done the work you need to, and the best way you can help yourself is by finding rest and focus. So have a bath, dream over your monologue, then get some sleep!
3. Don’t over-prepare
This relates back to my last point, but I don’t think there’s anything more damaging before an assessment than rehearsing over and over again, right up to the last minute. There’s got to be a point where you stop and relax. Over-preparation can be fatal for some performers, as it stops us from being open to direction from our directors – which is a key skill to have, not just in assessments but in real-world auditions too. So whether it’s 30 minutes or an hour before your assessment, make yourself stop practising. Continue to warm up and get your mind and body prepared, but put the material out of your head and focus on calm instead. Maybe visualise yourself doing your best performance in the assessment room. This way you can walk in confidently with your head held high, and deliver your best. One of our tutors at ICTheatre always used to tell us that if you’ve done the work, it shows. And if you’ve managed your time right and looked after yourself, all your work will be done. So now you can put the work away and shine.
4. Get ahead of the game
Now this doesn’t directly relate to assessment week, but it will help; if you have work to be doing on your assessments before assessment weeks approach…do it? This might sound like THE MOST obvious thing in the world, but it can be so easy to go ‘oh no that’s ages away, I don’t need to do that yet’. In my third year, we were told on week one of the first term about all our assessments for the year, including an essay that was due in May. We then had weekly lessons exploring potential areas of focus for this essay. But do you know when I started writing this essay? Yeah, that’s right, two weeks before the deadline. And don’t get me wrong, I’d spent weeks before that researching and ‘planning’, but I knew I should have started that essay sooner because when it came to the deadline, I was still stressed and writing for massive periods at a time. So don’t be like me. Learn from my (really obvious) mistakes and start your prep as early as possible – you’ll be thanking yourself when assessment weeks roll around!
So there we have it. My four top tips on how to survive assessment week. And I know, all this stuff feels really obvious and simple, but when you’re suddenly faced with 4 practical assessments and 2 essays all crammed together, it can be easy to get overwhelmed. Just slow it down, take a breath and focus on being your best, and I know you will smash it! And because I’m a lovely person, here’s a link to a ready-made timetable, so you don’t have to make your own. Download it and go colour code to your heart’s content.
Author: Charley Morgan, ICTheatre Graduate 2020