Learners Wellbeing

Exam Stress

It’s natural to feel some stress before an exam, here are somethings to remember when thinking about upcoming exams.

Keep things in perspective. Exam success doesn’t define you as a person. Everyone copes differently in different situations and there’s so much more to your personality than how well you can respond to an exam
Think about how far you’ve come already. You’ve already done incredibly well to get to where you are, failing an exam at this point isn’t ‘throwing away’ your past success

Once you’ve finished an exam, try not to dwell on it. There’s nothing you can do about it and worrying won’t change your mark

Get organised. Picture your exams as a time-bound project. Are the exams 30 days away? That’s your 30-day challenge. Best of all, there’s a definite end point

Work out the basics: which exams you have, how the marks are allocated and how much you have to learn for each one. Don’t expect to learn everything; but having in mind where you’ll get the marks, this will help you prioritise

Break your revision down into small chunks, and form a plan. Once you’ve got a plan, you won’t have any more dilemmas at the start of the day about what to work on

Schedule in free time to unwind and protect this time. Nobody can work all day every day. If you give yourself plenty of rest you can do the same amount of work in half the time or less

Don’t panic if you go slightly off schedule – tomorrow is another day

Get into good habits. Don’t set yourself ridiculous goals. Nobody can revise 10 topics in a day! Avoid setting the day up to be a disappointment

Don’t cut out all the enjoyment from your life. It’s tempting to decide you’ll just knuckle down to work and “focus”, but this is counterproductive – it’s impossible to focus without giving your brain rest by doing other activities

Avoid stimulants. Caffeine, alcohol and drugs impede your energy and concentration in the long term. It’ll also make it more difficult to get that much-needed sleep

Get support from friends and family. Don’t be put off by friends saying that they are doing huge amounts of revision, that’s a productive or efficient way of working and possibly not completely true. One of the key reasons people feel exam stress is due to comparing themselves to other people

Discuss with your parents/guardian what they expect you to achieve. Parents’/Guardians’ unrealistic expectations will just add unnecessary pressure. It’s helpful to let them know what you think you have the capacity to achieve and to insist that the best way to get there is to have support from them, not pressure

If you’re feeling really worried or anxious, chat to a good friend, family member, or tutor. It helps to get it out of your system, and they may well be able to help think about practical strategies to deal with exam stress