How To Deal With Exam Stress

Whether your heart is set on the Ivy League or elsewhere, exams are a stressful time. Walking into the exam hall in silence and contemplating on what the next 2 hours mean for your future is a daunting experience. Whether you’ve prepared well or crammed in the last year’s worth of knowledge into the last 10 minutes, looking at that test paper fills you with fear of the unknown. Fretting and sweating, many have been stressed out and panicking for weeks. So how can we deal with the lead up to exams and combat the stress?

First Things First

Revision and exams make everyone anxious at some point in their lives, so it’s important to recognise the warning signs of stress and anxiety. Difficulty sleeping is very common as people often worry most at night, when there’s nothing else to think about. A loss in appetite and loss of interest in normal activities are also indications. More physical warnings are symptoms such as an increased heart rate, headaches, blurred vision and unexplained aches and pains. If you’re suffering from a couple of these signs and symptoms, it’s more than likely you’re getting stressed out!

booksSleep is an important factor for combating stress. Make sure you’re getting 8 hours sleep a night so that your brain has the chance to rest and be ready for another day of knowledge. This is most important the night before your exam. Pulling an all-nighter and going to your exam looking like you’ve been at a rave is not a wise idea. Diet is also an important tool. Fruit, vegetables and protein are much better at giving you energy than the short sugar and caffeine buzz you’ll get from a Twix and a can of Red Bull. Making a conscious effort to eat breakfast will also make sure your energy levels are balanced throughout the day.

Nurture A Relaxed Learning State

Relaxation is key to coping with stress and doing well in your exam. If you have worked hard and revised hard leading up to the exam, you will remember and achieve good grades. A last minute cramming session outside the exam hall will only confuse and stress you out more. Leave the books at home and be confident in your preparation. Relaxing is also important during the exam. Do a rough plan for any questions that warrant it to keep yourself organised and focused. If you don’t know an answer, take a deep breath and move on.

Being focused and relaxed is also important towards the end of, and after, your exam. Make sure you go through your paper and check all of your answers. Review your spelling, grammar and calculations to ensure you have done everything to the best of your ability.

When you finally leave the exam hall, resist the urge to analyse. Your results may be enough to ace¬†Harvard’s formidable admissions process, they may fall short. You may have different answers to your friends and you may feel you did worse. However, spend your time talking about the things you haven’t been able to whilst revising. The exam is over. You are free. There is life after exams, and remember, there’s always re-sits.

Becoming a ‘Straight A Student’ isn’t easy. It’s a path that involves time, dedication and ongoing revisions. As a contributor to various websites including,¬†, I’ve witnessed the best and worst practices among students. Master the fundamentals for ongoing academic success.