Exam Ergonomics

Exam Ergonomics

Karen Burns B.App.Sc.(PT) GradDip (Safety Science), APAM

Exam Time – Study

Exams are tough on the body, not just the brain. You will benefit from maximising your efficiency when studying and preparing. Here are some tips;

  • It is not just about following a rigid set of rules but getting yourself comfortable, safe and productive!
  • Take this picture below regarding posture when sitting at the computer

Try to adhere to these principles:

  1. Keyboard at sitting elbow height
  2. Seat height allowing feet supported flat (perhaps you might need a foot stool to achieve this)
  3. Screen height – top of screen at sitting eye height

This is difficult to achieve when using a laptop or tablet device. Options include a separate keyboard and propping up laptop or tablet device. (see picture over page)

Good even lighting

Is your whole study area will illuminated with minimal shadows, dark shadows and dark areas? Minimise glare into your eyes and on the screen.


Current Physical Activity and Sedentary Guidelines for Australians include to “minimise the amount of time spent in prolonged sitting” and to “break up long periods of sitting as often as possible”.

I recommend you consider a standing table. You may need to be creative such as a smaller coffee table mounted on another standard table or even upturned box. Think safety first please! Alternating between different postures often is a very good idea.

Regular Breaks

Your muscles love movement, even the small ones in your eyes. Try to take 2-3 minutes every 20-30 minutes. Strand up, move around, look at distant objects, get some fresh air.


Best type of chair is an adjustable standard type of office chair. The back rest should comfortably support the inward curve in the small of your back. The seat shouldn’t push into the back of your thighs and knees. It should have a S star base for stability and be well padded.


Reduce stress by planning ahead and setting realistic expectations of what you can achieve. Spread the workload out. Avoid last minute cramming. Get plenty of sleep and regular exercise. Exercise is now known to boost mental performance.