How to Cope with Exam Stress
Coping with exam stress can be tough to manage for any student. When you factor in the added pressures of balancing study time alongside work, family and social life, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed and sometimes even defeated.
The good news is that while exam stress is inevitable, there are healthy and productive ways to cope with and properly manage it.
Prioritise Your Time
Two major factors contributing to exam stress are procrastination and a lack of time management. While we’re all guilty of sometimes avoiding responsibilities – big and small – putting aside study time is important, as is how we deal with those anxious feelings before cracking open a course guide.
Though it may seem miles more appealing to watch another episode of one of your favourite television shows before hitting the books, it can start to work against you if you don’t show yourself a little discipline. Otherwise, before you know it, you’ve lost valuable study time and only added to your exam stress.
Prioritise your time by blocking out specific time slots for studying that you can commit to each week.
This could be:
- In the morning after breakfast
- During your lunch break at work
- During your commute, if you take the train or bus to work
- After the kids are in bed
Whenever you choose to study, be sure that it fits in with your lifestyle. Nothing kills your motivation to study faster than setting unachievable goals (so maybe reconsider that 5-hour study window you’ve booked in before dawn).
Also, be sure to set yourself up in a comfortable and productive study space so that you can dedicate yourself to your studying with minimal distractions.
The next step is deciding on what material you need to spend the most time reviewing. Whether you’re studying for a GCSE, A-Level, or professional qualification exam, you should begin by focusing on the areas where you have the least amount of knowledge. Then, work your way back to what you know best for the most well-rounded result.
We know that the concept of prioritising your studies can be daunting, but with your study timetable and online tutor at hand, it doesn’t have to be hard.
Make Time for Breaks
Now, there’s no golden rule for how much time you should dedicate to studying, but it’s important to note that studying long hours isn’t any more effective than studying for shorter, more spaced out periods of time.
Regardless of your study tactics, the key is not to overdo it.
Taking ten- to twenty-minute study breaks to give yourself a breather every hour or so should be a priority when you’re studying. Effective breaks keep you feeling motivated and confident resulting in the success you want when preparing for exams.
This doesn’t mean that you should use your breaks to browse social media or turn on the television; try using the time to stand up, stretch your legs, and do something that makes you feel good.
Self-Care is Essential
It can be a real balancing act making your physical and mental health a priority when you’re busy with your everyday life, let alone when you’re feeling the stress of exams too. That’s why it’s especially important to set aside time for yourself when you’re feeling the pressure.
Finding an outlet for exam stress is as vital as studying for the exam itself. So, what options do you have to make sure you’re taking care of yourself while taking care of your daily responsibilities?
- Get Active:
Try your best to get moving and find time to incorporate a quick workout where and when you can between study sessions; ideally outside where you can benefit from the fresh air. This will improve your energy levels and keep you happy and motivated.
- Eat Well and Stay Hydrated:
Break the study habit of going for what’s convenient – and often unhealthy – and take the time to fix yourself a well-balanced meal. And while we know it can be hard not to rely on a big cup of coffee (or three) while you study, drinking water throughout your caffeine kick will help to maintain concentration
- Get Some Sleep:
No one functions very well on too little sleep. If you’re exhausted, you’ll be unfocused and likely a little grumpy, and that’s not going to help combat exam stress. Take enough care to properly rest and unwind before bed; turn off your phone and remove all other distractions at a decent hour to guarantee a better night’s sleep.
- Treat Yourself:
After a study session, allow yourself a well-deserved treat. This could mean giving yourself some time to spend with friends, or perhaps it could mean indulging in some retail therapy. Whatever your fancy, reward yourself for a job well done. You deserve it!
We’ve all been there, so take comfort in knowing that you’re not the only one who struggles with the stress of exams. With our tips and study strategies, you can cope with your stress in a healthy and productive way, helping you ace those all-important exams.
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