Exam stress

We all know that exams can be a stressful time! Especially if these are the first real exams you have ever sat! The thought of having to sit in that big hall in silence, the thought of all the stuff you need to remember and certainly the thought that you will never pass your exams! These are common thoughts that go through your mind when you are sitting your exams. No matter how exam friendly, or clever you are there will always be nervousness, worry and stress when it comes to exam season!

There is absolutely nothing wrong being stressed about your exams, it is completely natural! Sometimes though, the stress can be so overwhelming that you won't be able to cope and this may start to have a bad effect on your exams!


Signs that you are experiencing stress

There can be some obvious signs that you are under stress. Here they are:
  • Starting to get headaches.
  • Sleeping habits can be affected, you will start to sleep badly.
  • You will lose your appetite.
  • You will start to get irritable and bad tempered.
  • Start to feel tired a lot more.
  • You will start to feel sick a lot more!

How to avoid exam stress

Avoiding stress before an exam:

Stress can be caused by a number of things, high expectations of yourself, high expectations from your parents and even the high expectations from your school. It is understandable that these things will start to cause stress during the exam period! Stress can be caused by the lack of confidence in yourself, you may feel that you just aren't good enough, or it may be caused because you think, or know, that you haven't worked hard enough. There is a lot to fear, letting yourself down, missing that opportunity at the next stage like 6th Form, College or University or even a job. Stress of exams will always be worse the first time you sit exams, this is because you are not used to the experience and you don't know what to expect. Exam stress can also be a side effect of other things that might be affecting your life at the same time. If your levels of stress stay too high for too long, you are at risk of harming both yourself and your chance to succeed. Everybody has a different threshold of stress, and will be able to cope with it differently. Some people can be stimulated by events that stress others out. Stress can however work to your advantage if you keep it safely controlled at the right levels. This is because it may help you to work at your optimum performance level!

How do I minimise exam stress?

Exams can bring out the best in some, and the worst in others! This is completely uncontrollable. Unfortunately, there's always chances that you will have to do them. School for example, there is no escaping the exams at school! You just need to remember that you can only do your best, and if you try your best that you should be incredibly pleased with the outcome!

Organising yourself

There are many ways to organise yourself for your exams. First make sure you have the right kit, because there is nothing worse than running around at the last minute trying to find kit that you could have brought months ago! Here are the most likely resources that you will need for your exams:
  • Pens - Most exam boards only allow black ink pens to be used in their exams, so take this into consideration when buying pens!
  • Ruler - 30cm ruler is always the best to go for, exams are almost always on A4 sheets of paper!
  • Pencil
  • Rubber
  • Geometry set - This should contain a compass, a protractor, two set squares, and a small ruler! These are incredibly useful for maths exams!
  • Calculator - Essential in most science exams, required for some maths exams.
  • Highlighters - These are good, especially for annotating things in english exams.
  • Coloured pencils.
Some exams may require some more specialist equipment so you should always check before hand just to be on the safe side! The next thing is REVISION! That word that everybody hates. This is vital to make sure that you do well in your exams! The best thing to do is to make a study timetable. Always remember that little and often is better than huge chunks of solid revision. It is best to do 30 minutes for each subject, with breaks of between 15-30 minutes in between. Below I will attach a blank copy of a revision timetable that may be helpful for you! Remember though, this is just a template, make sure that you add some colour and put in any social events that you attend on a weekly basis! Another tip is no matter how much you want to watch that programme that runs over your Maths revision, don't do it! The revision will all pay off in the end. Click here to download the template. Now that you have your timetable, you need to find the way that you revise the best. You might find that you need absolute silence, or you might find that you need noise. You might find it easier to work at home, or in a public library or even at school! Just try out a few different scenarios. If you need to, make a sign that you can stick on your door to make sure that your family keep out, make sure that you explain that you are revising so they know to stay clear! Try putting your headphones in and playing some calming music or some music you like. You could make a little playlist of songs that help you the most! If you prefer to be in complete silence it may be beneficial to just put your headphones in even if they aren't plugged into anything. This will help to keep the noise out. There is no "right" way to revise, you just need to spend some time finding the best way for you! Spend half an hour revising a certain subject, and then test yourself. Do this with many different subjects and revision techniques and find out which returns the best results.

Calming down after a stressful day

There are many ways that you can calm yourself down, or de-stress after a long hard day of exams or revision! Breathing Techniques Stress can in fact affect your breathing. You may notice that when you are stressed out you start breathing faster, more shallow breaths. This will start to make your heart start to beat faster than normal. If this does start to happen, then you should really sit down somewhere comfortable and calm yourself down. Start by getting your breathing to slow down. Take deeper breaths, at slower intervals. Try to count to 10 slowly, this will help to take your mind off of things and lead to slower breathing. After making yourself breathe slowly for a certain amount of time, you will start to do it naturally!

Relaxing yourself

There are many ways in which you can help yourself to relax:
  • Sit down, close your eyes and just breathe slowly and deeply.
  • Find any areas on your body where you might feel tense, try to relax these muscles and imagine the tension disappearing.
  • Lie down and take a break, try to relax your whole body!
  • Take about half an hour to do this, and after you are finished take some deep breaths and stretch!
Finally, SLEEP! Sleep always helps to relieve some worries, especially because when you are tired these worries can be blown so out of proportion that they are causing unnecessary stress that could be avoided! It is advised that teenagers should get between 8 and 12 hours of sleep per night!

Coping and dealing with exam stress

You need to be able to cope with the stress when taking exams, so hopefully the following information will help you to do that!
  • Make sure that you know exactly what exams you are sitting, nothing is more unnerving than preparing for the wrong exam. Always have a spare copy of your exam schedule on your desk or computer!
  • Don't leave all your work until the last minute, make sure you pace yourself and spread your work out because staying up all night before the exam is not the best approach to take!
  • Always have a good nights sleep the night before, a nice cup of hot chocolate, a biscuit and an early night in!
  • Make sure you have everything you will need for the exam ready the day before. The best way to do it is the night before, arrange your stationary and other equipment onto your desk so that it is ready and waiting for you in the morning!
  • Make sure you eat! Do not go into an exam hungry. Make sure you eat breakfast in the morning, and if its an afternoon exam make sure that you have eaten a healthy lunch! If you know that you are going to get hungry then take in a snack to eat on the way to your exam.
  • If you can, take water into the exam and drink it throughout the exam!
  • Make sure you stay calm! If you start to feel stressed or feel your mind drifting, then just take a minute to get back into the flow of things. Count to 10 and take some deep breaths!
  • Make sure you read all of the questions CAREFULLY. Not reading questions carefully and missing vital information is one of the biggest mistakes that people make!
  • After the exam, JUST FORGET. There is no point stressing over how you did, what's done is done and there is nothing you can do now! Just be happy that you got through it and you tried your best!
  • Try to keep your goals realistic! Don't go getting yourself worked up if you don't get what you thought you were going to get, because you tried your best and you got exactly what you put all the effort in for!
  • If you do end up doing badly, it isn't the end of the world! There may be another chance to take the exam, and there will always be another option for you to move to the next stage! There will always be a path for you to take!

Talking treatments

It is incredibly important that in times of stress you are able to talk about how you are feeling and why you are feeling that way! By bottling up any feeling that you have, you are only making the problem worse for yourself. It is completely understandable that people under stress do not feel able to talk about their problems. There is always the fear of being completely overwhelmed and completely losing control of your emotions. Talking to a therapist or counsellor in the environment where everything that is said and done is kept in strict confidence can help you to contain and get over those feelings. It can also help you to understand why you feel that way, and how you are able to solve any issues that you are facing. Your school may even have it's own counselling services where you are able to drop in and have a chat. If things are starting to get too much then I strongly advise you doing so.

Hypnotherapy can be a suitable treatment for some young people suffering from exam stress. For more information about hypnotherapy or to find yourself a therapist visit Hypnotherapy Directory. Hypnotherapy Directory provides a huge support network of hypnotherapists, enabling visitors to find a hypnotherapist close to them and appropriate for their needs.


Medication being offered for cases of stress is not done very often however it is still possible to obtain these. If you feel that the stress is become absolutely too much for you, and leading on to other things such as depression then you should immediately see a doctor. Your doctor can asses your situation and professionally advise you on what to do. Occasionally a doctor will provide anti-depressants or minor tranquillisers for these issues. But usually just seeing a counsellor or therapist can be just enough to get you back on track!