Tips for Managing Exam Stress

15 JUN 2021

As we approach the season of exams and final assessments, it is important to be aware of how you are managing stress and anxiety. 

Lifeline WA wanted to share a few key tips about planning and staying focused to help you be prepared as you can be to assist in reducing tension and pressure in the lead up to school or university exams.

Stress is something that is part of normal life and is experienced by everyone from time to time. If you are feeling heightened stressed in the lead up to your exams, try and identify your stressors so you can manage them better. 

Some helpful tips to keep your stress levels at bay:

  • Build some regular exercise into your life. This will give you more energy and will also help you to unwind. 
  • Make sure that you eat regularly and sleep well, you will feel so much better.
  • Take time out for family and friends for some recreational activities. It is extremely important to keep connected with friends and family.
  • If you are finding it difficult to sleep or feeling anxious, learn calming techniques such as controlled breathing and muscle relaxation.

More helpful tips to assist with coping with stress here.

Practical strategies to stop procrastination

Overcoming procrastination when you are meant to be studying is difficult.  To do this in a practical way, you need to know what needs to be done, how to do it and when. 

To gain some clarity around what needs to be done, write a to-do list of all things that need to be reviewed or studied.  Then prioritise from the list of tasks what is most important. 

One way is to schedule your week into a timetable.  Although this is a more structured approach to study, it can assist in making sure that all details are written into your timetable and there will be time for each task.   

Find more practical strategies to overcome procrastination here and here. 

 Exams in a Covid World

Covid has changed the way students are sitting exams. Some students are now sitting exams online at home.  Examplify is an online exam platform that allows students to sit exams in the comfort of their home.  It contains special eye tracking capabilities and can also track if others enter the room. 

Feedback from this type of exam situation has been mostly positive.  Students feel more relaxed in their own environment and don’t have to travel or sit in a large auditorium with other students.

To help prepare yourself for this new exam situation, University libraries can assist with example online mock exams and software set up. 

We recently spoke with Chloe, a Year 12 student, who completed her ATAR exams last year, about how she felt in the lead up to the assessments. 

Chloe is a committed student and was eager to get a good ATAR result to ensure she had wide options for her chosen career path. 

Chloe admitted that she likes to listen to music while studying but knows that it can sometimes be a distraction.  ‘I’m terrible at concentrating and also with procrastinating, but sometimes I try and turn my phone off and put it in the other room’.  Chloe said that helps her to really concentrate and focus on the task at hand.

Chloe said she makes a detailed plan regarding study times and drafts up a timetable to help manage her time.  She said it is very hard to stick to and often defaults from the original plan, but she said at least it’s in place from the beginning.  One suggestion Chloe had, was to firstly revise the topics that she doesn’t know so well.  That way she can revisit again and have a second look later.

Chloe said she’s lucky she doesn’t usually get stressed in the lead up to her exams but does sometimes feel a little anxious on the actual day of the exam.  To combat these feelings, she ensures she has a good breakfast to start the day and does some last-minute revision of the topic to keep the content fresh in her mind.  Chloe said that she leaves plenty of time to find a car park at school/university so she is not stressing about being late for the exam. 

If the stress is getting to you and will prevent you from studying effectively, call Lifeline on 13 11 14 and talk to a professional telephone crisis support volunteer to help you through it.    

Photo by Jeswin Thomas on Unsplash