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How to manage exam stress- Top tips

By FLcs 10 Dec 2020

There’s no escaping it, exam stress is inevitable. The long hours of revision, panic when noticing a gap in notes, pressure and rush of the exam itself, and then the inevitable moment a week later when you remember something you forgot to include and end up convinced you’ve failed. It’s really no fun and the closeness of the winter break is no consolation when the stress starts to pile up.


While a bit of stress can be helpful, too much pressure can do more harm than good. So, how can we tackle the stress and get on top of it all?


First, let’s look at tips to deal with stress when revising:


  1. Just get started - doing something is a million times better than doing nothing at all! If it’s motivation that’s lacking and causing all the pressure then start small - go back through notes you’ve already written, read through a past paper, listen to a lecture while doing some chores. Once you get going it’s easier to keep going!
  2. Make a list and make a schedule - I always find that having a to do list is an easy way to break down HUGE tasks into manageable chunks, plus it’s then easier to check that you’re on track. Tying this in with a schedule also means that I actually tick off the tasks on the list, and lets me factor in a tea break without getting distracted!
  3. Take yourself away from distractions! I’m a big procrastinator and find that when I’ve got a lot to do I’ll check my phone much more often, make way more cups of tea, and suddenly have a burning need to re-organize my shelves. Taking myself to the library or even just leaving my phone out of sight is usually key to a good study session.
  4. Play some instrumental/ambient music. Making the perfect queue of songs can be tempting, but it’s also a big distraction! Spotify has a great range of instrumental study playlists including lo-fi, film scores, classical, and acoustic tracks!
  5. And don’t forget, your lecturers are there to help! As a final year, I really wish I had spent less time feeling lost and worrying, and instead just sent an email. There’s no such thing as a stupid question, and being in touch with them will only give you a better overall relationship!


But it’s also important to remember that alongside focusing on studying you need to take time to look after yourself to avoid burnout!

-        Schedule regular breaks and time to unwind! This also helps with procrastination plus it mean that you can spend more time focusing - 40mins of focused work is a lot better than 2 hours of stop-starting.

-        Treat yourself! I’m awful for not taking the time to properly look after myself during exam and assessment periods - give yourself time to go for a stroll or watch a film. Maybe end the day with a facemask and your favourite show or a tasty dinner. Looking after yourself is key to avoiding burnout!

-        Get a good night’s sleep! An all-nighter may be tempting (and necessary), but it’s important not to let long nights and early mornings become a part of your routine - a lack of sleep harms your ability to concentrate, so getting in an extra hour of sleep is probably worth it for your productivity!

-        Eat well and stay hydrated - taking the time to get your 5-a-day in and drinking plenty of water are key steps towards top concentration. And to top it off you’ll feel way more energetic from a good diet!

-        Talk about it!! I can’t stress how important this one is! Talking to friends, family, course mates, or one of the ResLife team is so important for putting things in perspective and de-stressing. 

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