5 tips to reduce exam season stress

By Sophie Orchard, 2nd year Psychology NTU student 

As a second-year university student I know it’s hard to shy away from talking about exam stress because it is a key part of most degrees. Without a doubt I can truly say that it is my least favourite part of getting my degree, but despite this I know that exams are necessary.

No matter how hard I try, every time someone mentions the word ‘exam’ I immediately start to panic, and every possible scenario runs through my head of everything that could go wrong. But then I remember my strategies to try and reduce the amount of stress and anxiety I face around the exam season.

As I have gone through my degree and even prior to coming to university, I have developed some tricks for reducing exam stress, so I thought I would share them to try and help others out!

1. Plan

I am someone who thrives when they have structure and a plan to follow. I know not everyone likes planning and a strict revision plan, so to-do lists may also be beneficial.

I find if I make a list of everything I need to get done by certain dates and then organise this by priority, I get everything done and don’t just do the activities that sound the most enjoyable.

Whatever form of planning or structure suits you may help to relieve some of the exam season stress.

2. Set goals

This kind of goes along with planning, I find setting myself mini goals helps me be less stressed and more productive.

For example if I have an exam date looming, I like to set goals to have certain topics memorised by a certain point. This ensures that I can get all the work done before the actual deadline.

3. Remember to take breaks

For me this is so hard! I am a person that if something needs to get done, I don’t stop until it is done. However, since I’ve learned that taking breaks is vital to reduce stress, the work I produce has been much better quality.

For me a break looks different every day. Some days my break is in the afternoon and then I do my planned work in the evenings. Or sometimes if I am having a study day, I like to use the pomodoro method.

The pomodoro method suggests that you do 25 minutes of work at a time and then after the work time you have 5 minutes break, once you have done 4 of these cycles you have a 30–60-minute break depending on the extent of the work you have done in the 25 minutes. For me this method has not only helped me with remembering to take breaks but also how productive I am in a short space of time.

4. Sleep

Before any exam it can be easy to just stay up late to try and cram in all the possible things that you think you don’t know. Everyone does it and it can be a hard habit to break. But it is important to remember that your body needs sleep in order to maximise its potential in exams.

Sleep can also help reduce stress and it allows for your body to fully wind down and recuperate in order to be more productive!

5. Change study environments

I have found that the environment I study in heavily effects how stressed I am about the work I am doing. Changing up the place that you are working in can help boost your productivity and lessen your stress.

This could be as simple as one day studying in your room and one day studying in the library. The change of environment can help your memory too. This is because you may associate the different location with whatever you are learning, so when you are trying to recall the information, the environment may help you!

Exam periods are stressful, these tips may not fully get rid of your stress but I hope that if you try some of these tips, the stress will decrease a little. The most important thing is that you remember you are doing your best!

For help, advice and resources whilst studying at NTU, take a look at the following for sources of support.

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