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Tips for dealing with exam stress - Exams

Stress can be a good thing, but sometimes it can get too much.

When it comes to exams, the feeling of being out of control is one of the main symptoms of stress. Stress can trigger reactions like being unable to eat or sleep, tearfulness, panicking and generally not feeling happy. There are a number of things you can do to help alleviate stress or even prevent it occurring in the first place.


A revision plan is invaluable. A revision timetable can be a key help in dealing with stress caused by exams and revising. Break your revision down into manageable chunks and keep it varied so that you don’t get bored.

Take regular breaks

It is scientifically proven that the longer we try to concentrate on something, the less our brains can deal with it effectively. It is important to take regular breaks. 45 minutes is generally perceived as the maximum time to concentrate without a break. When you start to feel panic or your mind wandering, just stop and do something else for a bit.

Preparation is key

Revision is important but preparing for the actual exam is the key part that is often overlooked. Exams can all be structured in different ways. Make sure you know the type of exam, the marking structure and how the marks will be allocated.

Look after yourself – in other words, eat and drink well!

You need plenty of energy to prepare for and to take exams but it is also important to plan to eat and drink effectively so that you sleep properly too. Processed and sugary foods are not a good idea. The far better route is a diet of lean proteins and slow release carbohydrates and lots of vegetables. Eating is naturally something that is the last thing on your mind when you are nervous but that is understandable and perfectly ok. The important thing is to drink plenty and to stay hydrated. Water and herbal tea are your best options. Coffee, tea and fizzy drinks can be full of caffeine and sugar and can actually make you overstimulated and far worse.

Learn to relax

If you feel really anxious, find a quiet calm space and try taking some deep breaths for a few minutes. Focus your mind on something pleasant – anywhere that makes you happy and this will naturally wind you down.


Worrying and tossing and turning during sleep before an exam is understandable. A warm bath and avoiding TV, mobile phones, computers and tablets can assist restful sleep. Don’t panic if you find it difficult to sleep, adrenaline will get you through the exam – you just might need a nap afterward!

Talking is good for you

Everyone feels the same about exams or tests. Talk to friends, chat to your tutors and lecturers and your friends and family – they have all been in your position at some point in their lives.

Treat yourself

Rewards are always a nice thing; build a series of treats into your revision timetable and give yourself a reward for sticking to the timetable. Then plan a whole day out as a treat after the exams are over too. Try and keep your perspective logical. If an exam doesn’t go quite as you hoped, make yourself realise there is nothing you can do until the results. Getting upset after an exam may affect your chances in another exam you may have. And don’t forget that exams are not the only thing an employer is interested in. Employers also look for a great attitude, natural ability, and the all-important exemplary work ethic.

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