MOST tertiary students suffer from 'exam blues' because they expect too much from themselves, according to an expert. 'The common belief among tertiary students is that they should know each and every thing covered in their syllabus before they enter the examination centre and this causes a lot of anxiety,' said Joseph Chan Kai-nin, principal counsellor of the City University of Hong Kong's Counselling Service. 'It is just not possible. You cannot memorise everything from your syllabus. You must learn to concentrate your efforts on key areas.' He said few students realised that one of the best ways to prepare for an exam was to practise on past papers, adding that students should consider doing this to help with their revision. 'Your memory of the information will be enhanced if you have thought through it and used it. It also helps your integration of what you have learned,' he said. 'This is not about 'tipping' the questions but analysing the key topics for your studies,' he added. 'Tertiary students are facing more pressure than before because the amount of information contained in their syllabus has increased and so has the level of difficulty. 'Therefore, students need to equip themselves with adequate study skills to reduce stress and anxiety caused by impending examinations.' The veteran counsellor said students also needed to learn some relaxation exercises to beat the stress from the grind of study. Leaflets and seminars on stress management are available at the university's service throughout the year. Hector Lee Ho-kwan, a first year Information Engineering student of the Chinese University of Hong Kong said pre-exam anxiety was caused mainly by students' inability to understand the subjects fully. 'Some of the courses do not require us to do projects and it is quite difficult for us to review all information contained in the subjects at once,' said the 20-year-old. Mr Lee said he preferred discussion with tutors and classmates to working on past papers. 'The focus of the study changes every year. I do not know about other courses, but for my course there are no specific key areas that I can concentrate on,' he said. Yolanda Young Oi-chun, head of the Student Counselling Unit of Lingnan College, said most students who sought advice from the unit in the run-up to exams had problems with study skills and often did not know on which areas to focus. 'Others worry about their projects which have not yet been completed. A very small number say they do not know how to make use of the facilities available in the library,' she said. Ms Young advised students with study problems to approach their counsellors and seek help. 'Some students just come to us and say they feel the stress but do not quite know the cause of it. We need to help them understand the cause of their worry so that we can help them.'