How to manage stress during exam season: tips and techniques for coping

By Oluwatomilola Oyewusi-Muraina Master of Laws NTU student

Whether studying for exams in a traditional exam hall or working on take-home exams, exams can be extremely stressful and overwhelming for students. As a fellow student, I’ve learned some helpful tips that have helped me cope with exam stress, and I would like to share them with you!

  • Eat healthily: I know it sounds like a cliché, but maintaining a healthy diet was a game changer for me. Skipping meals only left me feeling drained and unfocused, so I learned to prioritise nutritious meals even on a tight budget. This helped me cope better with stress during exams.
  • Get enough sleep: It’s tempting to pull all-nighters to cram for exams, but I learned the hard way that lack of sleep could do more harm than good. Our brains need rest to function at their best, so I made sure to get a few hours of sleep, even if it meant adjusting my study schedule. It helped me stay more focused and alert during exams.
  • Prepare your kit in advance: I found that being organised reduced a lot of my exam day stress. I made sure to prepare my exam kit the night before – my stationery, student ID, and anything else I needed. I also double-checked the exam rules and regulations to avoid any last-minute surprises. Being prepared helped me stay calm and relaxed on exam day. Trust me, it’s always good to familiarise yourself with the exam guide.
  • Know what works for you: Everyone has their own unique way of studying. Some people thrive under pressure and study until the last minute, while others prefer a calmer approach. Some study better at night, while others prefer studying during the day and cannot sacrifice their night sleep. It’s important to find what works best for you and stick to it, without comparing yourself to others. Trying to adopt someone else’s study approach can feel like trying to fit a square peg into a round hole. Personally, I experimented and discovered what study methods worked best for me. Additionally, I realised that it’s not a clever idea to discuss how you approached a completed exam paper with your friends after the exam, as it can disrupt your preparation and performance in other exams. After all, you cannot amend what you have submitted.
  • Practice relaxation techniques: Taking breaks to relax and recharge can help reduce stress. Experiment with different relaxation techniques, such as deep breathing, meditation, or exercise, to find what works best for you. For me, taking breaks in between studying, listening to music, and meditating were incorporated into my study routine. It helped me reduce mental stress and recharge my mind for better focus. Taking care of your mental well-being is just as important as studying.
  • Practice past exams or sample questions: Familiarise yourself with the exam format and types of questions by practising past exams or sample questions. This can help build confidence and identify the style of asking questions and any areas that need further review. Doing this helped me feel at ease and more prepared.
  • Seek support if needed: Don’t be afraid to seek support from friends, family, or the Student Support Services if you’re feeling overwhelmed. Talking about your concerns and getting advice can help you feel less tense. Receiving guidance from someone who listened to my concerns helped me feel better, relaxed, and more positive about approaching exams.

Remember, exams may not necessarily be a true test of your knowledge, and your worth as a student is not solely determined by your exam results. Prioritise self-care, stay positive and believe in yourself. You can do this!

​​​​​​​We know exams and assessments can be a stressful time, which is why we are running the Stamp Out Stress (SOS) campaign. The campaign provides support, advice and activities to help you Stamp Out Stress. 

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

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