Exam stress can start when you feel you can’t cope with revision, or feel pressure from your school or family. You might worry you’re going to fail or you won’t get the grades you need for the course or job you want, but we’ve got advice and tips on coping. It can seem scary to talk about stress or anxiety.
Exam stress and anxiety is experienced by many students, and it’s important not to let it get out of control. Exam stress and anxiety can start when you feel that you are struggling to cope with revision, or you’re worried you aren’t going to perform well. You may be worried about what will happen if you don’t get the grades you need.
It’s normal to have concerns, but it’s important to recognise when you feel stressed, and develop ways to manage that stress. Here we provide our top exam stress tips to helping you manage your anxiety and perform your best.
1. Plan and set realistic goals
- When you’re revising, break your revision into manageable chunks, and focus on each one separately. Don’t allow yourself to get overwhelmed by thinking about everything you need to learn.
- Get organised. Work out what exams you have to take and when, and how much you need to learn for each one. Then work backwards from each exam date and plan your revision. Break that down into topics, and plan when you’ll revise for each and for how long. Using a calendar of diary broken down into hours of the day will really help. This way, you’ll stay focused and feel confident you have a plan; avoiding panic.
- Don’t compare yourself to others. If someone you know seems to be doing loads more revision than you, just remember that that may not be the most efficient use of their time. Taking regular breaks is important. And everyone revises and learns differently.
- Get the advice of parents or teachers who may be able to help you think about practical strategies to working. Talking things through will help ease and focus your mind.
2. Look after yourself
- Get a full night’s sleep. You’ll function better if you’re well rested.
- Make sure you take regular breaks from revision – regular breaks will improve your focus. Step away from your desk, and get some fresh air for 15 minutes, or have a chat with some family or friends
- Eat well. Your body performs better with the right fuel. Eat plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables, drink plenty of water, have proper meals and don’t skip breakfast!
- Avoid stimulants. Too much caffeine will reduce your concentration and energy in the long term and will affect your sleep.
- Keep active. Exercising will help focus your mind, helping you to think more clearly, and will reduce some of the intensity of your emotions. Play your favourite sport, or simply go out for a brisk walk.
- Relax. Set aside time every day to do something you enjoy, and to rewind. Have a bath, watch some TV, or see some friends.
3. Learn to recognise when you’re feeling stressed
- Taking a break or having a chat with a friend or family member will give you some light relief, and help put things into perspective.
- Remember – exams aren’t everything. Potential employers will be concerned with your personality, attitude, other skills, and your ability to work well with others, as well as your exam results. Whatever results you get, you can be successful.
- It’s important to be in the most positive frame of mind possible to do your best. Check out our mindfulness tips for help with this.
4. Believe in yourself
- It’s amazing what positive thinking can do. Think “I can” and focus on how to achieve it.
For more exam stress help from one of CXK’s emotional wellbeing counsellors, check out our blog – Beyond Revision, A Guide to Exam Stress Management