15 Tips For Coping with Exam Stress

March 08, 2018 / Learn

Guest Blog by Ian Jenkins

Ian Jenkins is an experienced counsellor and psychotherapist who has specialised in young people and family therapy for 15 years. Ian helps students of all ages cope with fears and anxieties around school, college and university. Ian is well known for his regular appearances on BBC TV and radio where he can be found offering practical advice for young students.

Stress and anxiety has always been a problem faced by students, and especially during exam season. Of course, the pressure on students only ever seems to increase with new courses, new skills and more challenging content.

Not only does the workload grow, but the expectations seem to increase too. From school to college, to University, the pressure to succeed can sometimes be loaded onto students by parents, teachers and, sometimes worst of all, themselves.

So how do you cope with exam pressure?

1. Remember your successes, even if you were worried in the past - most of the time you will have done OK, you survived!

2. Remember, you can only do what you can do. Try your best, aim for success and you will deal with the results whatever they are.

3. Remember exams are not everything! Yes teachers and parents tell us they mean the world, but however you do, there will be options.

4. You are competing with nobody else. Do your best and be proud of how far you have come.

5. Stress is caused by trying to control the uncontrollable. You cannot control the results, you can't control the past. You can ensure you plan, prepare and organise yourself. You can ensure you study as much as you can.

6. Make your plans realistic. An unrealistic plan that fails, reduces confidence; a realistic plan that allows for breaks, sleep, fun and relaxation is achievable and will increase confidence.

7. Take care of yourself!

a. Eat well - you need a healthy balanced diet to feel good and get your brain in top condition. Hunger leads to stress and irritability.

b. Drink well - get your brain working efficiently and improve concentration.

c. Exercise well- regular movement gets your body and mind working better, improving concentration and energy.

d. Sleep well. We process memory in our sleep, so no sleep means no learning. If you get too tired to focus, you can guarantee you will gain more from a good night’s sleep than you will from working into the night.

e. Avoid caffeine and energy drinks! These stop us getting the right amount of good quality sleep

f. Keep in touch with friends and family, be sociable - a happy you will be a relaxed unstressed you. Keep doing the things you enjoy!

8. A good plan that you can stick to should mean you can play hard and work hard. You do not need to feel guilty about time out to have fun and recharge if it is timetabled into your plan.

9. Plan to learn the way that you learn best! If you study best with music playing then play music, if you study best in silence then do that. If you learn best using colours and diagrams, do that! It is your study time, enjoy it!

10. Try to start and finish with your favourite topics/subjects. The nice start gets your mind working positively, the easy ending is a nice reward, but when you are flying in the middle do that tricky topic you have been putting off!

11. Make sure you can study in a place without interruptions. If possible, try not to study in your bedroom as this can make it harder to sleep.

12. Make sure you have all the materials and equipment you need before you start.

13. Study in short bursts, say 20 minutes, then have a short break, move about, drink, then get focused and start again.

14. Make study active - do something with your notes other than reading through them. Make video clips, diagrams, pictures, mind maps etc…

15. Remember we usually do much better than we expect and every result will be a step towards your future.

If you think you are suffering too much, talk to people who've been there such as your parents, teachers and older brothers and sisters. Talk to counsellors and psychotherapists, we are trained to help you deal with stress and anxiety.

If you would like to find out more about Ian Jenkins, you can find his website HERE

Visit our revision page for all your exam preparation needs HERE

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