Overcoming Exam Stress

Education Health | by | 4th Jan 2017

Overcoming exam stress featured image

Originally published: 28th April 2016 at 12:30, last reviewed and updated: 4th January 2017.

Stress is unpleasant, unhelpful and unhealthy, especially during exam season. It’s important to be aware of stress levels and know how to find support if they get too high.

Fortunately there is a lot of support out there for students dealing with exam stress. Whether it’s you or a family member going through this period, it’s helpful to be aware of stress-relieving techniques and to encourage them regularly.

Here are some helpful approaches for overcoming exam anxiety…

exam hug - flickr - credit eflon Exam stress

Cuddle Something Cute

Cuddling something tiny and adorable releases endorphins in your body which will relax you. That’s why several universities have opened puppy rooms and micropig rooms to relieve exam stress.

Research has suggested that just looking at pictures of cute things can improve concentration levels, so even if you can’t find a real-life puppy room just click on the links above or head over to Daily Squee and spend a few minutes awwwwwing at the screen.

Photo Credit: Eflon


exam stress sleep

Lie Down

Napping does more than just reduce stress: it also aids in problem solving and memory recall which can be extremely beneficial when revising.

While finding a bed can be a challenge during the day, a growing number of educational establishments are adopting beditation: meditating while lying down (which often leads to a micro-nap until someone pokes you). The practice is all about paying attention to your thoughts and feelings while in a state of relaxation. Doing this puts distance between you and your worries, loosening their grip on you.


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Listen to Your Body

Carrying on from the point above: listen to your body. If you feel like there’s a knot in your stomach or a weight on your chest then acknowledge that. Instead of trying to ignore it, lean into that sensation. Say to yourself “I feel nervous/stressed/worried, but that’s okay.” Accept the feeling instead of fighting it and it will begin to fade. If you’re particularly stressed, focus on your breathing for a few minutes.

Revising and sitting exams burns a lot of calories so it’s important to eat. Your stomach will let you know when you’re hungry, all you need to do is listen to it. If you feel stiff: stretch. If you feel tired: sleep, don’t open another can of Red Bull.


exam break

Take a Break

Shackling yourself to your desk isn’t always the best way to revise. If you find yourself re-reading the same sentence over and over: take a break. Have a change of scenery. Go for a walk. Taking a break from something allows you to return to it with a fresh perspective.

If you’re in the exam itself when this feeling strikes: jot any notes in the margin and then turn the page. Come back to that question later.


exam perspective

Put Things Into Perspective

In the grand scheme of things, exams really aren’t that important and you can always re-sit them if you want to. Some people have brains that work well within the exam format; others don’t. There’s nothing wrong with being someone who finds the structure of exams difficult, and it says nothing about your intelligence.

Remind yourself of the many successful people who never even finished high school.

Listen to Baz Luhrmann’s ‘Sunscreen’.


exam talk

Talk About It

A problem shared is a problem halved, and I guarantee you’re not the only one with exam stress. Express yourself however works best for you: talking, writing, music, art, exercise… just don’t bottle those worries up. There are a number of online communities where students can safely express themselves and support one another.

Meic logo

If you’re a young person suffering from exam stress and you’re unsure where to turn, you can always talk to Meic for free. (They’d also be great people to speak to if you want to get a puppy room or some beditation classes started in your school or college, as their job is to help get your voice heard.)

A Problem Shared

If you’re a parent or have a loved one who is struggling under exam pressure then you can contact FamilyPoint Cymru for advice. You can do this by phone – 0300 222 57 57, text – 07860 052 905 or instant message. We are open Monday – Friday 9am – 5pm. Feel free to tell us your issue over at A Problem Shared… for an expert response.

Have you or a loved one been affected by exam stress? Get in touch to share your story.

Like this post? See our other articles:

If you’d like to chat about money issues or family matters, get in touch with the FamilyPoint Cymru helpline.

  • Phone: 0300 222 57 57
  • Text: 07860 052 905
  • Instant message (see top of page)

We are open 9am – 5pm Monday to Friday.

(Featured image: William Warby, from Flickr)

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