How to cope with exam stress

Its currently nearing the end of semester exam period for us here at the University and revision is at the top of everyone’s priorities. But with revision, comes exam stress. If you’re reading this, I presume that you’re in the same position as most of us right now and feeling a bit deflated. Here are my top tips to stay motivated and cope with your exam stress.

Start early (but not too early)

Starting early is key to coping with your stress. However, don’t start too early or you’ll burn yourself out. Give yourself a good few weeks/month to revise for your exams but don’t give it your full 100% in the first week. If you do, you’ll find yourself burnt out when you still have a few weeks until that final exam. Start off slow and steady, prepare some revision materials and do a few hours a day. Then, in the following weeks/days until your final exam, give it that last push and ensure you know everything that you can. You’ll be thanking yourself that you started early and put the time into making the revision resources!

Last minute cramming may work for some people, but it’s not advisable. Make sure the days before an exam you get plenty of rest and keep on top of your revision.

Revision Timetables

Following from the previous point, a revision timetable is a great way to make sure that you don’t burn yourself out but to also organise your revision. Make sure you spread your time evenly between subjects/modules but focus on those that you don’t know as well. The day before an exam make sure you focus on that specific content, so its fresh in your mind for the next day. There are some great revision templates online!

If you don’t always stick to it, don’t worry, at least it can give you a rough, visualised guideline of how much time you have left and what you need to revise.

Find the right revision style for you

This is something that I found really hard. Highlighting and just reading your notes is not active revision. There are many techniques that you can use to revise including:

  • Flashcards (Quizlet is good if you prefer digital flashcards to handmade ones)
  • Posters
  • Mindmaps
  • Past Papers

Make sure you keep changing your revision up to keep yourself engaged and don’t forget your end goal – to get that degree or to get that grade!

I find it helpful to condense all my notes down onto an A4 piece of card (front and back) just so I can visualise everything that I need to learn in one place.

Eat healthy and give yourself some free time

Some days, you will need a rest or to take breaks and this is something that is ok. Don’t think that everyday you need to be revising for 8 hours. However, if you’ve started your revision early then hopefully you won’t need to do too many hours in the days before the final exam. Make sure that you eat healthy, exercise and get plenty of sleep during your revision and exam periods. Although you may crave unhealthy foods, a healthy body = a healthy mind (do treat yourself sometimes though!). Meal prepping a few weeks before your exams is something that I find helpful as I can freeze healthy homemade meals and then quickly grab them on those long revision days when I don’t feel like cooking.

Overall, as cliché as it sounds, try to not stress yourself out too much. Just remember these tips and some of your own that you’ve tried and tested. Do as much revision as you can and do your best! Good Luck 😀