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Exams can be a stressful time, but there’s no need to lose hope. Here are eight practical and easy tips that will keep that exam stress to a minimum.
If you’re feeling the pressure from exams, why not take a break with our new series for students? It’s called Classic FM’s Revision Hour – and you can hear the next episode this Saturday at 9pm, with the brilliant Vick Hope.
Exam stress affects pretty much everyone, but different people will experience it in different ways. From headaches, to negative thought patterns, to feelings of frustration, there are many different signs of stress.
Although its symptoms can be unpleasant, stress can also work as a motivator. However, if stress starts to negatively affect your studies then it’s time to take action. Follow these quick tips from The Student Room to stop exam stress in its tracks.
Start at the top. You’re going to feel much more organised and in control if you’ve got a defined revision timetable to follow. By specifying the time you’ll devote to each subject and topic, you’ll be able to judge your goals and the progress you’re making towards them.
Studying for too long at a time is counterproductive; your mind will wander and you’ll actually get less done, rather than more.
Build break periods into your study plan to take some time out for an hour or two every day. If these breaks are defined in your timetabled, you’ll be able to step away from your studies without feeling guilty about it.
Part of dealing with stress is understanding what causes it. Remember that stress is your body’s response to a certain situation – in this case, an upcoming exam. It can be helpful to focus on that fact – you’re feeling stressed because you know the exam is important, not because you’re unable to cope.
Before exams get into full swing, take some time to practise relaxation techniques. Breathing exercises, mindfulness and positive thinking are all simple ways to counter the effects of stress.
Don’t keep it all inside. When you’re feeling stressed or under pressure, it really helps to talk to people. For one thing, you might get some useful help and advice.
More importantly, you’ll be putting into words how you’re feeling. Verbalising the things that are making you stressed gets them out of your head, which helps you think about them in a different way. You may find they’re suddenly not so scary any more.
When your head’s in the books, it easy to forget about taking care of yourself. But while all-night revision sessions might feel super productive, breaking up your sleep pattern is going to have a negative effect.
Making healthy choices doesn’t need to be difficult; just drink lots of water, eat good healthy food and get plenty of sleep. Keep active, too. When you’re not revising, get outside – even if it’s just for a walk around the block. The exercise will help invigorate you, and the change of scene will be just as helpful.
Try to follow the same routine ahead of each exam. By going through the same steps each time, the exam process will become familiar and therefore less daunting. If you’re doing any last-minute revision, keep it light. Just go over some key topics but definitely don’t try to learn new stuff – it’s too late for that.
Make sure all your stuff is ready so you don’t have to search for anything in the morning. Double check where you need to be the next day (and at what time), then set your alarm (more than one if you need to!), making sure you’ve given yourself plenty of time.
You don’t want to be rushing and worrying about being late. Have a good healthy breakfast – something energy-packed but not too heavy (something like granola with honey, yoghurt and banana is ideal) – then get going. You want to arrive early.
A good way to head off stress in the exam hall is by being well organised. Give yourself time at the start to read the paper thoroughly, so you know exactly what you need to do. Similarly, reserve some time at the end for checking through your answers.
However the exam goes, try not to obsess over it afterwards. You’ve done all you can for that exam now, the only thing you can affect is the next one.
Classic FM's Revision Hour aims to help students of all ages to focus and stay calm during the busy revision and exam period.
Got a question about revision? Ask The Student Room