Tips on how to handle exam stress

You may have read my blog on how to handle the pressure of life but this blog specifically addresses exam stress.

Many are going through exams at the moment in school, college, or university and some (many) may be or will be panicking. I know I didn’t like exams as I felt I never did my best but if you want to progress in life it is good to get qualifications and do the best you can.

Hope my tips will help you stay as calm as you can, and cope with the stress.

Remember: A little stress can be good as it motivates you to get things done

More and more students, whether at school, college or university, are seeking help for their studies and mental health issues. Everyone, including young people, are under more pressure than ever before (not just due to the pandemic and the impact it has had on students, missing out on traditional lessons as well as missing out on the social side of school life. Having lack of contact with friends impacts on your mental health.

So here are some tips to help you do the best you can.

  1. Eat healthy: as this gives you energy. The odd chocolate bar is ok but do not binge on unhealthy food.
  2. Sleep: make sure you are getting enough sleep – the hours differ for each individual but try if you can to get 8 or 9 hours.
  3. Exercise: it is important to do physical exercise at least half an hour a day. This does not need to be at a gym, you can exercise in your room or better still take a walk outside in nature as nature gives you a different perspective.
  4. Set realistic goals: try to do this throughout your study year but even if you have several weeks, days or hours before your exam you need to put everything into perspective. You can do this by setting realistic goals for each of your subjects. If you have left your studying very late and near your exam, you can still do the best you can by making notes on each subject and reading and re-reading; some can cram for their exams (it’s never too late, don’t give up). Learn from this for the next time and start studying earlier. (Of course if you’re a crammer! Still aim for enough sleep and eating healthy foods.
  5. Study with others: of course you will do most of your study alone but schools, colleges and universities have or may have set up extra study groups and research shows that if you study with your peers when revising for exam is an effective technique and of course it has emotional benefits which can give you confidence
  6. Break your studies down: break your studies into manageable chunks. This calms you. It stops the panic. Looking at all the books, course notes of every subject can send you into panic mode. Breaking everything down puts things into perspective.
  7. Stop the panic: many students panic before, during, and even after their exams. You can stop the panic by using my ABC techniques (they are easy to use and proven to be psychologically effective. These techniques are detailed below.
  8. Achievement board/post-it notes: it is so easy to feel like a failure, and lose belief in yourself – please, please create an achievement board or have post-it notes with all your achievements, no matter how small – these remind you of how awesome you are, how far you have come.
  9. Believe in yourself, let go of negative thoughts: as soon as they come into your mind, replace them with positive ones. Look at your achievement board and say ‘I can do it’ I am amazing’ ‘I am proud of myself’ These are affirmations and are very powerful. Don’t wait for others to tell you this, do it yourself. See my ABC at the end. My ABC reminds you to believe in yourself.
  10. Use my ABC technique – they are easy to use but proven to be psychologically effective. Try this now:
  11. A is for affirmation – a positive statement using first person and in the present or past tense e.g. I can do it; I am amazing; I am an achiever; I am worthy (make up your own). Using the present or past tense (verb) is important. Top athletes do not say that they are going to win the gold medal – they say I have won it!
  12. B is for breathing – I mean deep effective breathing – you breathe in through your nose pushing your diaphragm (tummy) out instead of raising your chest) to the count of 1, 2, 3, then hold for 1, 2, 3 and then slowly exhale through your mouth to the count of 1, 2, 3. When you exhale your diaphragm should go in! Try it and practice it until it is easy to do. This type of breathing is calming but also energising – it increases your lung capacity and improves your immune system (vital in times of increasing viruses)
  13. C is for creative imagination – use your imagination to imagine yourself achieving success, getting the grades you want

You may have heard of mindfulness techniques and these are what my ABC are. They are also powerful and proven to be effective but remember they are not magic – you do have to undertake your studies.

Of course, if you are struggling do not struggle alone – talk to someone. Asking for help is not shameful and you are not a failure if you need to seek help.

I recommend practising my ABC so they become your good habit, treat them like a friend on the should whenever you need or want to stay calm – not just for studies but for life.

I have a YouTube channel where you can watch and listen to my many inspiring and motivational videos. Please subscribe.

I have MindBites mindfulness videos for lots of topics including how to do my ABC.


Patricia x

Related Works