How to Deal With Exam Stress?

This post is about helping you deal with study stress. The methods might work for you or it might not. Everyone is different. You will just have to find and personalize your own methods for coping with stress.
Student studying

Studying is a stressful activity. Whether you are a high school student or you are pursuing a career in the medical profession, studying takes time and energy. Each subject demands your thoughtful and undivided attention. You must devote your time to achieve full proficiency in any subject. Life as a teenager/young adult may seem to be filled with fun and excitement. But, sometimes; just sometimes, it is more stressful and overwhelming.

There is no doubt that the academic world trains us in preparation for the upcoming challenges and difficulties. Teachers assign challenging projects and assignments to give us a taste of the real world. On top of that, you have to deal with your friends, family matters and a questionable future.



What is the difference between stress and excitement? You are excited when you are going to play a football match. You want the victory. You are focused, ambitious and ready to go. But, you are stressful when you have upcoming exams. Why? Because exams are stressful! (Duh!) The stress tend to manifest as a huge weight has materialised over you. Threatening to crush you into powder. I do not believe that there is anyone who finds exams to be relaxing. This  has led to a stress epidemic among students. In fact, research suggests that every one of the three students suffer from chronic stress!

We know that we cannot drop out of school. How do you know? (Then you will have to read “Education? Do I Need It?“.) With that said, an educated mind cannot live with a stressful heart. Before we can have full utilization of the knowledge (of independent learning), fear and stress must be destroyed completely. How do you deal with all that stress? This post will guide you. Let’s take a look at some of the ways to deal with exam stress.


Tips for Combating Exam Stress

Different students experience different amount of exam stress. Small amount of exam stress is good as it will stimulate the mind to be more focused on the exam paper. However, if the stress level is too high, the student might experience a mental breakdown during the exam. Normally, high level of stress during exams is a result of insufficient preparation for the exams.

If you are prone to high level of stress during exams, these tips can assist you in feeling better and not suffer a meltdown in front of all your schoolmates.

  • Distract yourself from the stress. Find a shiny dot on your writing sheet. Look for a glittery object and focus your attention on the object. It can be a piece of jewelry or a bulb. Take five long breaths and remind yourself that everything is fine. The sun is shining today, and it is great news. The earth is floating in the orbit, and it is a great natural phenomenon. Try to think about pleasing things. When you feel better, bring your focus back to the test paper. (The passage above outlines the thought process that you should have to divert your attention away from the stress.)
  • Sugary stuff! Always keep some sweets and a juice bottle with you during exams. Eat the sweet before the exams. Drink the juice during it (Subject to approval from your examiners!). It will increase your blood sugar level, and you will feel better.
  • Sleep early. It is vital that you have sufficient amount of sleep before the exams. Burning the midnight oil is not recommended as it will severely degrade your mental condition during the exams. If you are unable to fall asleep (due to all the stress of the looming exams), please employ some relaxation techniques. For instance, you can play classical music (or your favourite pop songs), hum along and gradually release your mental grip. If you experience insomnia on a daily basis, please seek for medical help immediately.
  • Take the responsibility. Students want to get good grades because; their parents want them to do so. Most of us do not realize what we are doing. Do you want to study? Are you making the effort for yourself? Or, are you doing it all for someone who does not care? Most of the times, stress in students comes from fulfilling the expectations parents have. Read some self-development materials and find your life path. This will allow you to set goals for yourself. Achievable goals.
  • Set realistic goals. Always go for achievable goals in the academic world, then divide your goal into six sub-goals. Why? You will feel a sense of progress as you work through mini-goals and hence, feel more motivated. Do not go for an “A grade” when you know, you cannot achieve it. It is important to know your limits and not burn yourself out. Instead, try to get a “B+” grade. Appreciate yourself when you get good marks.
  • Manage your time well. Be an organized person. Do not procrastinate. Focus. You can spend hundreds of hours without accomplishing anything if you are not focused. The task is to stay disciplined and organized.



Simple Checklist

  • Have a chat with your favourite teacher. Discuss about the nature of tests, the assessment method, duration of formal exams, and the expected dates.
  • Have a copy of your syllabus or coursework.
  • Stay healthy. A healthy mind is build on top of a healthy body.
  • Keep a stress diary. Jot down the date, time, location and details of each stressful episode. It would be helpful to try to quantify the amount of stress felt on a scale from 1 to 10. This stress diary will be useful in helping you identify potential stressful situations and develop your personal stress coping mechanisms.
  • Start your coursework early. It is a great idea if you can start your study before the semester starts. You will stay ahead of your class, and it will lighten the burden on your shoulder.
  • Revise your subjects at least once in a week. Make and compile personal notes if time permits. (You can obtain Physics notes from this very website!) Be creative and try your methods. Just make sure, that you have enough time for relaxation activities. Do not burn yourself out!


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