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While studying at school, college or university can be a wonderful opportunity to learn and grow, it is not without its stresses too – particularly around exam time. This can be a very stressful period and you may face some challenges as they get closer.

This simple tips will give you some tips on how to help combat exam stress and get you ready for the day.

Am I stressed?

While you are caught up in the middle of revision and studying you may not even realise you are stressed, so here are some of the signs to look out for:

• Feeling overwhelmed
• Trouble sleeping
• Feeling confused
• Losing touch with friends
• Having trouble making decisions
• Upset stomach or feeling sick
• Fidgeting, nail biting, teeth grinding

Mindfulness - a breathing exercise

Hand Setting Natural Pebble Stone with Smiling Face Cartoon to Balance

Sometimes we need to take a minute to just breathe. Find somewhere comfortable to sit or lie down and close your eyes. Take a minute to focus on your breathing - is fast or slow?

Regulate your breathing to a comfortable pace, allowing any thoughts or feelings to come and go. Just relax and breathe, you may feel it helps. Try and do this every day, for as long as you need to.

How can I manage my workload and reduce stress?

Good exam preparation is key to helping you to reduce your exam-related stress. Here are some tips to follow when you are studying for your exams

  • Find a quiet place to study
  • Organise your space so it is not cluttered and is without distractions
  • Find out as much as you can about your exam so you can prepare
  • Ask your teacher if you’re unsure what course content to focus on
  • Make a ‘mind map’, using bright colours and images. There are many different learning techniques, so finding which works for you will really help
  • Make a plan for your study sessions, set a time with short breaks included to get fresh air.
  • Divide your session into blocks. Focus on one block at a time
  • Ask for help if you need it. That includes if you’re feeling stressed, as sometimes talking to a teacher, friend or someone you trust can be reassuring
  • Eat well, prepare yourself nice evening meals and try not to skip breakfast

Exam Day

Exam day has arrived and you have done all you can to prepare but you may still feel stressed.

student sitting on row chair doing final exam in classroom

This happens, but here are some things you can do to help control that:

What do you need to bring with you? Organise this the night before

  • Eat breakfast, this will help your energy and concentration
  • Go to the toilet before the exam starts
  • When you sit down, before you begin your exam, take a long deep breath. You’ve got this!
  • When you receive your exam paper, read through it carefully. Underline or highlight any key information
  • Work out how much time you can spend on each section
  • Work on the questions that you find easiest first
  • When you have completed all the questions, take a minute to go back and re-read your answers, starting with the most difficult questions first.
  • Don’t overthink about your answers once you have left the exam hall – turn your thoughts to something else!

Finding help

Don’t be afraid or embarrassed to reach out to others for help and support, whether that’s friends, family or flatmates.

Most schools, colleges and universities have dedicated counselling supports in place for students. Ask about these at your place of learning.

Helpful resources on exam stress management can also be found at:

If you feel you need further support contact your GP, as they can offer more information, advice and access to additional services which can help.