Exam stress

Some people can find that revision and exams can cause considerable stress.

You may be anxious about the exams or assessments themselves. Perhaps you are dealing with other issues and the additional pressure of exams just feels too much.

Remember, a certain amount of stress is natural and helps motivate you to do things that are necessary.

However, if you feel that things are getting too much there is a variety of support available:

If you are experiencing issues that you think might affect your performance in an exam find out about Mitigating Circumstances.

Finally, don't be afraid to ask for help.

Ten tips for minimising exam stress
  1. It's never too late to make a revision plan or timetable. Doing so will help you prioritise and feel more in control. But be realistic!
  2. Schedule regular breaks, and do take them. Make breaks longer as the day goes on. Remember that most people can only concentrate fully for about 45 minutes at a time.
  3. Don’t try to revise for too long in one day, especially as exams draw nearer. Try to avoid revising late at night. Work on your most difficult subjects during your ‘peak’ periods. For some this is usually between 10 am and 12 noon, and 3 pm and 4.30 pm.
  4. Try to get enough sleep - tiredness promotes anxiety. Spend some time unwinding before you go to bed.
  5. Pay attention to your diet, and take regular, aerobic exercise (if you enjoy it). Check out the facilities in The Arc.
  6. Avoid caffeine, which in large doses can cause tension and anxiety. Remember caffeine occurs in tea, cola drinks and chocolate as well as coffee. Drink plenty of water.
  7. Make sure you spend some time relaxing and having fun.
  8. Consider revising with friends - splitting responsibility for obtaining photocopies and revision notes can save a lot of time. There's group space in the Learning Cafe and the Library.
  9. Avoid people who are obviously panicking. It can be contagious! Try not to have post mortems on each exam, as this can also increase your anxiety about later papers. Aim instead for a constructive appraisal of your time management.
  10. Try some relaxation exercises. They can reduce your overall anxiety level and help you cope with any panicky feelings. Check out what’s available at The Arc – relaxation classes are sometimes available or you could consider therapeutic massage. The NHS Inform website also has some suggestions on relaxation exercises.

Based on a guide by Canterbury Christ Church College. Used with their kind permission.