5 Tips for a Stress-Free Exam Period
Amy studied at the University of Bristol and is our revision blog guru. She only graduated recently so understands the pressures of being a student better than most, and is here to share her wisdom so that you revise effectively, smash your exams, succeed at school and write cracking university and job applications.
The revision period can be a stressful time. With a higher concentration of hours spent studying, big expectations placed on exam results and constant opportunities to compare yourself to others, it’s very natural to be feeling stressed.
A little bit of ‘pressure’ can sometimes be positive though, with the sense of urgency it provides, giving you motivation and helping you work with efficiency. But feeling overwhelmed, burned out and panicky definitely isn’t healthy; and it will shut down productivity as your brain focuses on the fear.
This is part of the reason why studying with past papers is so beneficial (you can view OCR past papers and other papers by exam board from the Save My Exams homepage) – they allow students to confront the challenges of an exam well in advance of the test date. Nevertheless, there are many sensible approaches to reducing stress that are not related to past papers.
Here are a few stress-busting tips you should try out that will help get through your exams!
Deep breathing techniques can really, really help if you’re starting to feel panicked, but they also good to do in general. Breathe in through your nose, counting till five; and then out of your mouth for five, letting your breath flow deeply into your lungs and down into your stomach. Do this for a couple of minutes and watch as you rapidly feel calmer.
Physical movement is great for helping your body release some of the tension it’s storing and to clear your mind. Getting away from your desk, even if it’s just for a short walk, can give clarity, focus and a fresh perspective. Making sport and exercise an important part of your revision timetable is also good as this produces endorphins – the chemicals in your brain whose job it is to boost your mood!
3. Make a plan
A key way to tackle stress is to make a plan of what can be done to reduce it. When you just think about all you have to do, it’s easy to get overwhelmed. Writing down the specific actions you can take to find solutions to your stress (and then doing them) will show you that these tasks are way more manageable than they seem.
Planning also means organising some fun rewards for yourself, both after exams and during the revision period! Having something to look forward will motivate you, and remind you that there’s more to life than revision and exams!
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4. Get support
Your friends and family are likely to have noticed you’re feeling stressed and will want to help. Part of your stress-busting plan should be to identify the areas where you can get support. Surrounding yourself with people who will listen and help you gain some perspective is really important.
5. Be kind to yourself
Stress often stems from the expectations and pressures you place on yourself. It’s great to have goals and aspirations, but if you’re always worrying about not meeting them or are constantly comparing yourself to others, then that works negatively. You need also need to accept that you can’t necessarily control everything, and that there are some things you won’t be able to change – but that’s okay! Be kind to yourself.
Although we all experience periods of stress, be aware that your mental and emotional state might indicate something more. High-pressure situations can highlight or exacerbate serious mental health conditions such as anxiety and depression. If you feel there’s a bigger underlying problem, it’s important to see a medical professional who will be able to help.