Exams are pretty much always stressful. But it’s completely possible to manage some of the stress that’s brought on by exams if you use different strategies. If there’s stuff you’re not strong on, or you’re really stressed out, there are people who can help you.
We’re saying it because it’s true. No one likes doing them, and cramming information into your brain over a short period of time is stressful. A bit of stress can get you going, but too much can make you exhausted, angry and annoyed.
There are a whole bunch of things you can do to help you get through exams the best way you can.
Manage your stress
You’ll be less stressed if you’ve got an idea of how the lead-up to your exams is going to look, so plan what you’re going to study and when, and stick it up on the wall, or on your desktop. Break it down into manageable chunks and start working through it at the rate you planned. It’s probably more boring at the start, but it’s far less stressful. Plan some break times and days off too!
Take the pressure off
Deal with pressure and expectations by realistically assessing how you think you’ll go, and working to do the best you can. If other people’s expectations are pressuring you, talk to them and try to get them to back off. If you’re putting too much pressure on yourself, try to realise failure isn’t fatal. It’s likely that the worst that can happen is that you take it again, with a massive head-start from the work you’ve already done.
Do it together
There are other people studying for the same exam, and they probably don’t like having to lock themselves away to study any more than you do. Get together with them and take the books outside from time to time. If you’re not as strong in certain areas, it could help to talk to other students as well. If you are good at it, share the brain-wealth.
Go easy on the substances
All of them – caffeine, cigarettes, coffee, no-doz, alcohol, marijuana, Ritalin, Dexamphetamine and any other drugs. Any drug you think will help you study is actually a short-term fix that’ll probably make you feel much worse and cause you to underperform later.
Get enough sleep, eat good food, and keep moving
It’s really important you look after your physical health when studying for exams. Make sure you’re stopping to eat regular meals and try to set aside 30 minutes a day to do some exercise, even if it’s just going for a walk. Having enough sleep is also really important, so check out our fact sheet, ‘Getting into a sleeping routine‘ for some tips.
Make sure you don’t pin all your hopes on one outcome. Have a few options, and realise that if your heart’s set on one thing there are always going to be other paths to it.
If you’re finding things tough, ask for help. It’s your teacher, lecturer or tutors job to help you understand the subject, so if you’re not understanding stuff, tell them and they should be able to help. If your study load or exams are driving you mad, there should be a counsellor at your education institution who can help with that as well.
Also check the related topics:Stress Study & Exam Tips