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Dealing with Exam Stress

Published Monday, 12 May, 2014 by Beth Bradshaw

If you’re like me, you tend to experience a tonne of stress and anxiety in the run up to a big exam. A certain small amount of stress is good; it keeps you on your toes and shows you care! However, in excess it can lead to lack of sleep, poor appetite and prolonged bad moods, which can all have negative impacts on your exam performance if not dealt with head on.

This week I’ve totted up some of my top tips on how to combat with this stress and anxiety during exam time to help you keep your thinking cap firmly on top of your head!

  • Get Organised: There is absolutely nothing worse for your stress levels than leaving everything to the last minute. Cramming is possibly the single worst thing for your stress levels as it will without a doubt send them into overdrive the night before and create a mad panic during your exam, which will do your paper no favours. So, make sure you know the exact date of your exam as soon as possible to get mentally prepared and start your revision as early as possible. You will therefore be mentally prepared when the time comes, and rather than stressing about what you have or haven’t covered you can concentrate on the job in hand.
  • Eat Well: Yes, I do believe eating healthily will solve almost all your problems! Have a read of last week's blog to find out which foods can help your memory, concentration and cognitive functions. Eating healthy will help keep your energy levels topped up and brain functioning properly which will in turn stay on top of your revision and keep those stress levels down.
  • Sleep: Getting at least 8 hours sleep every night is crucial during your exam period as it will refresh your mind ready for the next day of revision. However, when experiencing stress we often find it hard to sleep or it interrupts our sleep. Try to avoid caffeine in the evening, pack away all your revision before you go to sleep out of sight and try to go to bed at the same time every night so that you can build up some sort of routine.
  • Take Control: Don’t let your work get on top of you, be positive and stay calm. If you’ve done all the work and are prepared then there is no reason for you to stress, so reassure yourself that you can do it and think, what’s the worst that can happen? Take control of your stress and try to identify the source of it. Is there a certain module or concept you don’t understand? If so, try to seek help from tutors or course mates to help you with it and put your worries to rest.
  • Relaxation: Everyone has a different way of relaxing, for example mine is cooking (unsurprisingly!) whereas some of my friends can’t think of a worse way to unwind. You can’t physically or mentally spend 24 hours a day revising and you need to make time to relax everyday otherwise all that revision will drive you crazy. Whether its reading a book in the bath, going for a run, playing guitar or simply watching TV, make time for relaxation and use it as a reward, say once you’ve done 2 hours of revision have a break and do something you enjoy for a while.
  • Forget: Last but not least – once you’re out of that exam room, forget about it! Don’t hang about with that group who discuss what they put for what question, because you’re bound to start panicking the moment one person says a different answer to what you had. It’s not worth the bother, as there is nothing more you can do so don’t spend the aftermath of the exam worrying about how you did. Treat yourself and unwind with friends over a drink (or two!).

For some of you this may be the first time dealing with exams away from home, and so dealing with the pressure and stress of exams is never more important, as you don’t have your parents to run to every time you feel like everything’s getting too much. Keep in mind at all times during your revision, and especially when you start to feel the stress and pressure kicking in, it’s only an exam. It’s not the end of the world if you don’t do so well, and most of the time we expect too much of ourselves which is why we experience such levels of stress and pressure. Set yourself reasonable targets and push yourself, but not to the point where you feel like you can’t cope. It’s all about learning the balance!

Keep calm, eat well and good luck!


  • Miru 3 years ago

    This article was really helpful, thnx

  • Tuli 3 years ago

    Hey i'm also medical student(well that's what i gathered from all the anatomy books),and it's so true that we student's don't get time for anything else other than studies and socialising.
    soo,ijust wanted to thank you for all the tips and yummy food recipes!!