It is not long until schools, colleges and universities across Scotland will put up their ‘Quiet! Exam in Progress’ signs. And with it comes the inevitable exam stress and worry.

To help you cope with pre-exam nerves, The Spark has prepared some top tips. We work in Scottish schools providing courses on how to cope with exam stress and nerves so you can be sure we know a thing or two about getting through exam season.  Here are our top 4 tips for coping with exam stress.

Exam stress tips #1: exam stress is totally normal

exam stress tipsFeeling a degree of stress and nerves about exams is a completely normal reaction. Exams are an important step in your life and you want to do your best. But keep in mind that you are not alone or ‘flaky’ or ‘weak’ for feeling this way.

Every person has a different tolerance for stress and a different way of responding to it. For some it can be – in manageable doses – a help to maintain focus and encourage them to study. Other people struggle to manage it effectively.

The key is to put your exams in perspective. They are one step in your life journey and your future is unlikely to be ‘wrecked’ by not doing as well as you might have hoped. Many people find other routes to their chosen career despite disappointing exam results. The process might take a little longer or be a bit harder but you can still get there. Do your best and see what happens.

Related article: Do exam results define your future? Thankfully, no. 

Exam stress tips #2: talk about how you are feeling

Preparing for exams can make you feel like it is ‘you versus the world’. It might seem like you have no support and long hours studying can leave you feeling isolated and under pressure. Talking about how you are coping with exam preparation is really beneficial.

Your friends are going through the same experience. Instead of bottling up your emotions or feeling like you just need to get through it, share how you are feeling with a trusted friend. Remember that your parents and older siblings have been there before and came out the other side. You might be surprised how helpful and reassuring talking to them can be on issues like exam prep, coping with nerves and dealing with results (good or bad).

Exam stress tips #3: take care of yourself

Stressing over exams can often lead us into negative behaviour, like cramming in as much revision as possible. Students can end up filling every waking hour (and a few when they should be sleeping) with past papers and course revision. None of that is healthy and can actually be counter-productive.

Performing well in your exams requires revision and preparation. But it also needs you to be in top form physically and mentally. That entails looking after your own wellbeing by sleeping well, eating healthily (not litres of Red Bull!) and exercising. Passing an exam is as much about how you slept, ate and exercised as how many hours revision you managed.

Find out more about health eating for your age group

exam stress tipsExam stress tips #4: it does not have to be revision 24/7

It is important to strike a balance between revision and having some fun. As a part of looking after yourself set time aside to do something you really enjoy and to chill out.

It will be tempting to forget about studying however! As a result it is important to be disciplined enough to limit that time. Put together a study schedule that includes an hour of revision followed by a 20 minute break watching your favourite TV comedy or listening to relaxing music. Feeling refreshed, you can then return to your studying and smash a few more hours of revision.

At the end of a good day of study, organise something fun to do as a reward for your efforts. Catch up with a friend or go to the gym as a little ‘well done’ to yourself for another day of exam prep.


Exam stress and relationships

Exam stress can be a real challenge for any young person. It can impact on your closest relationships – with friends, boyfriend/girlfriend, family – negatively. If you are struggling you can contact our free Relationship Helpline.

The Helpline offers help and advice via live web chat online or on freephone 0808 802 2088.

If you are aged 18 or over you can also talk to us about counselling and whether that could help you with the challenges you are facing. Contact our enquiries line free on 0808 802 0050 or complete an enquiry online.

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