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5 tips on how to deal with exam stress

Exam season can be a tough time for students. You’ve worked hard throughout the semester through your classes and your readings and now you want all that hard work to pay off. This can be incredibly stressful, but here we have five tips for you on how to deal with exam stress and best position yourself to succeed. 


1. Organise your time

We only have a limited time in our day, and organising this can help to manage the amount of exam stress you are challenged with when studying. By creating a plan for studying and other activities, you can avoid feeling overwhelmed and ensure that you are making the most of your available time. This can help you stay on track with your revision and avoid the last-minute rush that can lead to increased stress levels. By building in regular breaks and adequate sleep time, you can help ensure that you are well-rested and have the energy and focus you need to perform your best on your exams.

Effective time management can help you to feel more in control of your workload and your overall situation. When you have a plan in place and a clear sense of what you need to do, you can ensure you can clearly see what stage you are at and reduce the chance of it building up. 

Along with organising your study and break time, ensure you make sure to organise other activities. Leaving the house and spending time with family and friends can help to contribute to your wellbeing if your time is well scheduled. 


2. Realistic Goals

Setting realistic goals is a crucial step in reducing exam stress. When setting your goals it is very common to take on too much. However, with all the other pressures of student life these goals can end up being unrealistic. In doing this you can put unnecessary pressure on yourself, which can lead to anxiety and stress. Realistic goals, on the other hand, provide you with a sense of direction and purpose, without being overwhelming.

By setting achievable goals, you can break your workload down into manageable tasks, which can help to pace your study along with the well organised time, so you are not overwhelmed with it all at once. This approach also allows you to track your progress and celebrate your successes, which can further boost their motivation and confidence.


3. Sleep

Getting adequate sleep is essential for maintaining good physical and mental health, and is particularly crucial during times of heightened stress and anxiety. Ensuring that you get a good night’s sleep can significantly benefit you in coping with exam stress that may be troubling you.

Research has shown that when you sleep, your memories from the day are strengthened, becoming increasingly stable upon a good night’s sleep. This particularly goes for repeated procedures that you may have been practising. This increased memory stability may make it easier for you to retrieve and recall that information later. Sometimes your exams may require very specific procedures, and this can help to solidify your memory of those. 

On top of these benefits, getting enough sleep can improve your mood, increase your ability to focus and concentrate, and reduce feelings of fatigue and exhaustion. Being more alert and able to cope with focusing on studying and then undertaking your exams can help to increase your performance. 

Without ensuring you get enough sleep, your body can react negatively. A lack of sleep contributes to many negative effects on the body. Brains work slower and less efficiently when tired, it is more difficult to concentrate, and you are at an increased risk of stress and anxiety. All of these things will make studying harder and increase your stress around exam performance. 

You should aim for at least 7-8 hours of sleep per night, avoiding caffeine, screens, and other stimulants before bedtime. A regular sleep routine can really help you to stick to your sleep commitments, giving you the best possible chance of success during the exam period.


4. Family and Friends

Family and friends play a crucial role in providing support and encouragement during times of exam stress. They can offer a listening ear and a shoulder to lean on when students are feeling overwhelmed or anxious about their exams. Emotional support can help to stop you feeling like you’re going through the stress alone. Those who are local can help support you by providing drinks or snacks while you study, or pick up a bit more slack on household tasks to give you the time to study and prepare. 

Alongside emotional and practical support, family and friends can also help you to maintain a healthy lifestyle during exams. They can encourage you to take breaks, go on walks to keep you active, and eat nutritious meals to ensure that youare looking after your physical and mental well-being. 

It is important to remember that each student may have different needs and preferences when it comes to receiving support during exams. Your family and friends will all have their own experiences with stress or lack of stress around exams or something similar, so they may not immediately respond in the way that you think best supports you. Some students may find it helpful to talk about their concerns and fears, while others may prefer a quieter and more independent study environment. It is important to communicate what you need from those supporting you in order to make sure they can do what is best to meet your needs. 

At the end of the day, family members and friends can provide a sense of perspective by reminding students that exams are only one part of their academic journey and that success can be achieved in many different ways. 


5. Use University Support Systems

There are many services available from universities to support student wellbeing and academic success. Academic support teams are often available to help in things like essay structure, time management, and revision and exam guidance. Your personal tutor will likely be able to advise you in some areas in which you are struggling. Whilst their time is limited, they want you to succeed but they will only be able to help you if you reach out. 

You may also be able to attend a workshop at the university which helps guide you in how to manage your study skills, or manage your stress. These opportunities are designed by those at the university who understand exactly what you’re going through and they are best placed to be able to support you and provide additional guidance that you may need. 


Bonus – Remember that you’re not alone

Whilst your family and friends may be able to support you, they may not be students like yourself. Living in student accommodation, those that are around you are students too. At St George’s Tower our common room and games rooms are perfect for talking to those who may be in the same position as you, and you can meet and support each other through the challenges. 


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