Handling exam stress

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Only by hearing the word examination, one could feel anxiety and stress. Examinations are conducted to test our learning throughout the year. The stress related to it at times gets so intense that the individual is not able to perform well in it and it might happen that even after knowing the answer to the question the or she might not be able to attempt it due to the immense pressure they might be feeling.

Exam stress affects students in varying ways. It is important to manage this stress and find little ways of helping to eliminate the risk of burnout. For some students, exams can be a breeze; revision is second nature to them and they could ace an exam with their eyes closed. But for others, sweaty palms and heart palpitations are just a part of the territory, and it seems that nothing is more impossible than sitting down and revising.

Exams can feel like a lot of pressure. You might need certain grades for a course or job. Or your parents, carers or teachers might be putting pressure on you. You might be putting lots of pressure on yourself as well. No matter where the pressure is coming from, there are ways to help you cope:

Think positively : When we feel anxious, we can have thoughts like I cant do this and Im going to fail. It can be difficult, but try to replace these with positive thoughts such as: this is just anxiety, it cant harm me and, relax, concentrate - it's going to be okay.

Be honest about how you feel : Sometimes people can put pressure on you without even realising and sometimes it can help to talk about how it makes you feel. Talking about things can help you to think about other ways they can support you in the future. If youre worried about telling someone, you can always talk to us.

Dont compare yourself to your friends : Competing with your friends can help to keep you motivated. But it can also make you feel like youre not good enough, especially on social media. Try keeping a list of the revision youve done so you can track your progress.

Let your stress out : Try using a mood chart (a chart which has the different human moods listed on it) to describe how the pressure makes you feel you can also try journaling or writing letters to a person you trust abouts in your life.

Here are some handy tips that can help to dissipate stress and make sure you can get through exam season.

Take regular breaks and schedule in fun things to look forward to : Even the most intense exam timetables will allow a little time for a study break. This can include 20-minute breaks during your revision day, and longer activities that you can look forward to. Go out for dinner with friends, go to the cinema, attend a gig, anything that you like doing in your spare time that will take your mind off exams. Spending a little time away from the books will leave you feeling more refreshed and better prepared for your next revision.

Exercise and get outdoors : Easily one of the most frustrating things about exam season is that it seems to occur just as the weather brightens up. Use this to your advantage and go out for a walk, or a run, or head to the gym or swimming pool. As well as keeping you healthy, exercise is known to boost your mood and can help to make you more productive while revising.

Dont (always) listen to others : As the old saying goes: "comparison is the thief of joy". While it is helpful to discuss topics with fellow students and often to revise together, try not to compare other peoples' revision to your own. Chances are youre doing just fine, and listening to other people talk about what theyve learnt will only stress you out and may make you feel like you aren't progressing as well as them. Plus, if they themselves are stressed this can rub off on to you and other peoples stress is not what you need right now.

Speak to someone : If the stress gets to a point where it is overwhelming, and is affecting your day-to-day life, try and speak to someone about it. Your university or school should have a service where you can speak to people about your concerns, and will be able to offer more advice on how to manage it. If that seems like too big a step, open up to a family member or a friend about the pressure you feel. Youll be amazed to know that you arent alone in feeling like this.

Here are 10 quite easy ways that can help you with you examination stress:
  • Watch a film, a TV show or listen to a podcast or comedian that makes you laugh.
  • Drink some herbal tea or a hot chocolate. Its a well known fact that hot drinks soothe the soul (avoid too much caffeine though).
  • A shower or a bath can help relieve stress.
  • Cook or bake something. Just the thought of having something delicious to eat can bring you joy. As a bonus side note, try and cook something healthy too a healthy mind resides in a healthy body.
  • Get some sleep. The virtues of a good nights sleep during exam season should not be underestimated.
  • Keep things in perspective. Yes, exams are important. But you are so much more than your exam results.
  • Avoid other stressed people. You know the ones I mean. The ones with cue cards outside of the exam hall, frantically trying to remember key dates and equations. They will do nothing for your stress levels.
  • Avoid the exam "post-mortem. You dont need to know how other people fared in the exam. Youve done your best, you cant go back and change your answers so the second you step out of the exam hall, focus on your next exam.
  • Be flexible. While having a revision time table is one of the best tools in your arsenal for exam success, dont be too hard on yourself if you dont stick to it. If you accidentally oversleep, dont write the day off.
  • Write down everything you feel like you need to do and try and tick one thing off. Just the act of feeling like you are in control of your revision can help.

you can be completely prepared, but just in case the anxitety kicks in, here are some quick methods to overcome it.

Take a deep breath:
  • Hold it for three seconds
  • Exhale audibly all at once and let your head, jaw and shoulders drop
  • Breathe easy into your neck, jaw and shoulders and breathe again into the relaxed state
  • Repeat cycle once or twice

If you try this in an exam, you will likely want to exhale more quietly so that you dont disturb the other students

Total tension release (can be done lying down or sitting):
  • Tense your whole body one part at a time
  • Tightly close your eyes
  • Take a deep breath and hold it for five seconds
  • Let your breath and the tension in your body go all at once
  • Feel the tension leave your body
  • Breathe easily and enjoy the relaxation
  • Go there whenever you need a quick relaxing break
  • Teally feel that smile spread throughout your body
  • Take a deep breath and exhale through your mouth
  • Stress comes in all forms and is an unavoidable consequence of life. In the course of normal development transient feeling of anxiety is experienced and usually mastered by every child and adolescent. A mild degree of anxiety and stress may be stimulating and motivating. And may help to overcome stress; but high degrees of stress may be disrupting.

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