13 tips on how to deal with exam stress

Around 3 million students will be sitting  exams this summer a Childline National Stress Survey  revealed –

96% of the 1300 who had completed the survey felt anxious about exams and  revision.

59% feeling the pressure from their Parents/Society/School/Peers to do well.

64%  hadn’t received any emotional support in dealing with exams.

If you have exam anxieties or know someone who does…..here are 13 easy tips to help you/them feel more in control  and confident for your future plus some freebies too.

1 Be prepared

Make sure you know what you are supposed to have learned and that you have your notes, books and essays to hand. do you know what format the exam takes and how the marks are allocated ?If not ask your teacher and/or study the marking scheme, which is often on the exam board’s website. This is particularly important with  a-level and GCSE stress when there are so many exams, and all structured in different ways. Preparation brings confidence and this is key.

2 Make a plan

Working out how much time you have to revise and planning how you can use it best by making a timetable is a key factor in how to deal with exam stress. another technique recommended by all time management experts is taking what feels like an overwhelming task and breaking it down into manageable chunks. Perhaps you need to spend more time on some subjects than others? Vary the timetable so you don’t get bored. You can always update the plan, if necessary, as you go along.

3. Know when and where you work best

Work when you are most alert. We all have slightly different body clocks – are you a night owl or a dawn lark? Everyone has different revision styles – maybe you like to sit at a tidy library desk or under the duvet with your laptop. Wherever you feel calm and in control is the best place for dealing with exam stress.

 4. Take a break

Psychologists suggest that we can only concentrate properly for about 45 minutes at one stretch, while neuroscientists tell us that the longer we try and focus on one thing, the less our brains are able to deal with it effectively. Take breaks to stay refreshed. Instead of cramming in more revision or, indeed, stressing over how to deal with exam stress, the best thing might simply be to do something completely different.

5. Eat well

Keeping your blood sugar levels steady so that you don’t have energy dips during the day and can sleep well at night is a vital way of dealing with exam stress. Avoid lots of processed, sugary foods like cereal, biscuits, sweets and chocolate if possible. Lean protein like chicken, salmon or egg, plenty of veg and carbs that release their energy slowly like wholegrain bread, rice and pasta will keep energy levels steady. Pulses like chickpeas and lentils are great for vegetarians (and others), since they contain both protein and slow-release carbs.If you are so nervous before an exam that you can’t eat, then don’t worry, your body will catch up later – but do make sure that you drink lots as dehydration can also be an obstacle to the brain working efficiently.

6. Drink well

Staying hydrated with lots of water, low-cal sodas or herbal teas is key to feeling alert. Recent studies have shown that students who stay hydrated achieve averagely up to 5% higher in their results. Juices or sugary drinks can make you feel jittery and mess up your energy levels. Caffeinated tea and coffee perk you up, but stick to about five cups a day, and if you feel jittery or have problems sleeping, drink your last one in the late afternoon. Bare in mind that colas, energy and sports drinks may all contain a lot of sugar and caffeine.

7. Get exercise

This is a great way of dealing with exam stress. Anything from walking the dog to going for a swim, run or bike ride helps reduce physical tension that can lead to aches and pains, and it also releases the body’s natural feel-good chemicals in the brain. If you can’t get motivated, rope in friends – it’s much harder to make excuses and it will give you some time out.


 8.Avoid Stimulants

Tea, Coffee, Energy drinks and sugary drinks like caffeine, lots of cigarettes, alcohol and drugs can give you the impression that you are somehow dealing with exam stress because they give you a short term hit of energy. But they can all leave you craving more and, in excess, will either slow or bring you down, or over-stimulate you. They can if used in access also affect your sleep and therefore energy levels over longer periods of time. Water is the way forward.

9. Sleep well

Tossing and turning the night before an exam is understandable, and our bodies are able to cope with lack of sleep for a day or so. Worrying about not being able to nod off only makes matters worse but there are many things you can do to help.

A hot bath  with some essential oils (lavender is great for calm) and having somewhere dedicated just to sleeping (and not to watching TV or going on a computer, phone or tablet) will help you switch off. If you really can’t get to sleep, do something repetitive like a jigsaw or counting sheep.

If you really, really can’t sleep, don’t panic this will only spiral your inability to switch off– do some breathing exercises, hypnotherapy, meditation, Reiki Healing contact me here for more details-https://thegreenroomtherapy.com/contact/ .

Sheer adrenaline will help you get through most exams the next day better than you might expect.


10. Relaxation

If you are really anxious, find a calm, quiet space and try breathing deeply in and out for a few minutes, focusing your mind on something pleasant, like a beautiful place with happy memories – anything that helps you wind down. This is a very simple form of Meditation and if you would like to use some of ours for free scroll down to the bottom of the page for the link there is also a breathing exercise there for you to learn to calm your nerves before sitting the exams. You may like to include a Wellbeing Meditation in your Exam Routine to relax you once a week over six weeks if so click here for the next classes coming up in Norwich no experience is necessary https://thegreenroomtherapy.com/our-classes/guided-meditations-for-stress-and-anxiety/?portfolioCats=6%2C7%2C36%2C38%2C37%2C8

11. Talk about it with someone

Almost everyone finds exams stressful – so you are not alone. You may talk to a friend, family member, your school tutor or a get support from a professional whichever feels right for you this will help get the worry out of your system. Reiki Healing is very effective to calm the mind click here for more information https://thegreenroomtherapy.com/what-is-reiki-healing/

12. Reward yourself

Build rewards into your workload, this will help you to stay motivated and also help you to break down the tasks into more manageable sizes. Staying motivated and not becoming bogged down are crucial to your confidence and therefore performance. With every task achieved set a reward that will help you to ‘pat yourself on the back’.

13. Keep it in perspective

If you feel you have really messed up an exam, there’s nothing you can do until you get the results. Worrying about it won’t help – and may reduce your chances of  doing well in other exams you are taking. Think about what you could do about a disappointing result if it were to happen and create a back up plan, that will help you feel in control.

DO PLEASE REMEMBER it’s great to do well in exams. But whether you are suffering GCSE stress, A-level stress or taking university exams, remember that exams aren’t the only thing that will help you succeed in life. Employers will be equally interested in other things, like your attitude, work-rate or ability to get on with others. Many people, famous and otherwise including myself  did badly at exams but went on to do well in adult life – and vice-versa.


If you would like to use some of our free wellbeing downloads in Exam Season to calm the mind and learn an anxiety release technique you are welcome to click here https://thegreenroomtherapy.com/free-downloads/