facebook noscript

Exam stress

In our information card about Anxiety we have learned that it is a very natural response when we perceive we are under some form of threat or danger. You haven’t read it yet? Go on…take a look and come back soon.

Hi, welcome back. OK, so we know anxiety can invade our thoughts and can cause us to have physical responses in our body. We also are aware now that Anxiety can occur when we are particularly worried about something that is about to happen or which we believe could happen in the future. For most people exams can create anxiety at some level from mild worry to severe panic.

As we have said before, anxiety is a natural response to perceived threats or danger and so a small amount of stress can be good for us in order to keep us focused and motivated. However, if we begin to have panic attacks, they can make us feel unwell, reduce our motivation and stop us performing as well as we might.

So what can you do?

Make a plan and stick to it…

revision will work best if you make a timetable, which subjects to revise and how long you are going to revise for. As you are working remember to back-up your work regularly and keep your notes too. But please leave some time for you. Practice a breathing technique (see before the exam below).

What can you do without?…

Your family and friends will still be there long after your exams are over so do away with things that distract you. Switch of your mobile phones and tablets whilst revising, create a plan for you to use social networking sites and reduce the time spent on these sites.

Sleep zzz zzz zzz…

the night before an exam needs planning carefully. ‘Do not’ cram the night before. By all means have a read through to familiarise yourself with what you have revised already but it’s now that you need to relax, you are ready. You have worked hard revising and you know your stuff so give yourself permission to relax, have a bath and listen to some chilled music and get an early night which will help you feel less stressed the next day. Have lavender in the room which helps relax the mind.

Exam day…

rise and shine in plenty of time, have breakfast and drink something. Eating breakfast will help you maintain your blood sugar levels, porridge, fresh fruit especially bananas which are packed full of potassium and will keep your energy levels up. Also, you will need to keep hydrated so have water or some herbal tea which can be good for soothing. Don’t rush around as this will create panic.

Before the exam…

Ok so the exam time has arrived and you will naturally feel a little apprehensive but this is the time for you to take control, you have prepared thoroughly and you are ready. It might help to take some deep controlled breaths. Breathe in through your nose for the count of 3 and then hold it for a split second before breathing out through your mouth for a count of 4. By controlling your breath you are less likely to hyperventilate.

Waiting for the exam to begin…

Use the breathing technique above, focus on your breath and slow yourself down. Create a mantra that you can say to yourself such as;

“I am ready, I can do this”.

When you are told to open the exam paper, take a few deep breaths, don’t rush and read the questions slowly and thoroughly more than once. Repeat your mantra.


Remember you are ready and can do this.


Health and Wellbeing Centre – 01226 216 233

Coping with exams


Last updated: 20th July 2022

Skip to content