Exams are a stressful period, and that’s just pretty much the way it is. However, this stress can be
managed and minimised, and therefore its negative effects are less likely to overwhelm you. After
all, this is vital, as if your stress levels aren’t correctly monitored during this time it can have a very
negative impact upon your exam results, and peace of mind. So, that is why we are here, to give you
our top tips for dealing with your exam stress.
1. Recognise the signs of stress
While this may sound simple, often the signs of stress are covert and not obvious to identify within
one’s self. There are many symptoms of stress, and each individual will react to the anxiety of exams
in a different way. It is always good to know what the most common signs of stress are: difficulty
sleeping, tiredness, forgetfulness, loss of appetite, feeling generally unwell, negativity, irritability and
anxiety. It’s a pretty scary list, but if you are aware of the symptoms and able to recognise them,
you’re that much closer to being able to do something about it.
2. Look after yourself
This is a good general rule for life, but especially important during the stressful exam period. Burning
the midnight oil really is not the most effective approach to revision at all, and will likely end up
doing more harm than good. Ensuring that you maintain a good amount of sleep per night will be
much more beneficial to your academic performance. Additionally, a healthy, balanced diet (not
energy drinks and crisps) is a key factor in battling stress. Finally, with regular exercise and fresh air
you’ll find those exam period blues easier to keep at bay.
3. Set realistic goals and rewards
It is a perfectly valid revision technique to set targets and goals for yourself. However, problems
arise when these targets are unrealistic and you pile unnecessary pressure on yourself. Tasking
yourself with 16-hours of revision a day is just counterproductive. Equally, its best not to go
overboard with your rewards either; an hour of revision doesn’t equate to a weekend off
unfortunately. It is important for you to find your own balance between goals and treats, that results
in you revising effectively, decreasing your stress levels and maintaining that equilibrium throughout
the exam period. This approach should also be taken to the exams themselves. Of course, grades
and results matter, but getting worked up because you fear falling short of your aim isn’t helpful.
Trying your very best is all you can do. So, there is no point in getting stressed about anything else
that is beyond your control.
4. Be organised, stay on schedule and take breaks
Being organised, and having a clear schedule and plan, are crucial to successful revision. Equally,
lacking this you’ll find that the exam period is much more stressful to negotiate. By drafting a
balanced and manageable schedule early on you can rest assured that all your bases are covered
and you won’t be panicking about having not revised certain topics when the morning of each exam
dawns. Also, breaks are just as important as the revision itself in many ways. If you overload your
brain with oodles of info in one sitting, you will not take it in. Break up your day with walks, 15
minutes of reading or web-surfing. Just keep your breaks short and regular. This will help to ensure
that your revision sessions don’t become overwhelming and stressful.
5. Keep yourself entertained
Having a film/TV on in the background, or thrash metal battering through your speakers will not help
you revise. Beware: it’s easy to convince yourself that the reverse of that is true, but really, trust us,
they won’t help. However, the noise of a busy family home, or even oppressive silence can make
revising much more stressful. Quiet, preferably classical music, can be a great aid in getting you
through these sessions. Furthermore, listening to these calming pieces of music prior to an exam can
help you relax your nerves. Remember to take your headphones out before sitting to take your test
Whether its throughout your revision sessions, or in the hours before each exam, it’s almost certain
that nerves and stress will strike. However, by following the above advice you’ll put yourself in a
much better position to alleviate your anxiety.