Coping with Exam Stress

It’s exam season again, and we all know what that means… STRESS!

It may be the dreaded Exit Exams, end of year exams, College exams – whatever they’re called, it’s no picnic – and for many of us it leads to feelings of panic.

We’ll keep this short ‘n sweet given that your eyes are probably weary from all the other reading (and breathing into a paper bag) you’re doing.  Our tips are evidence based and doable, and will help you feel less overwhelmed – promise.


1. Stick to your routine (studying, sleeping, eating) – now is NOT the time to make any big changes.

2. Use summary cards to whittle down your notes to key points. (Interesting fact: if you’re dyslexic it really helps if you use yellow cards with red pen).

3. Eat – healthfully and regularly.  ‘Dieting’ or otherwise restricting yourself in order to get your body ‘beach ready’ for the post-exam holiday is not a priority (see #1 above).


bikini body

You already have a beach body – TwoWiseChicks


4. Sleep. You’ll be tempted to pull all nighters. Understandable but ineffective. We need to have slept well to be able to reproduce learned material well.

5. Get out in the air. Exercise. If you feel too tired, it may be study induced inertia – get out and you’ll notice your energy level will come back up. It will. And you’ll think more clearly too.

6. Talk if (when) you are stressed, choose someone who will actually listen and be helpful.

Another great read:  Saying No: the cornerstone of healthy boundaries

7. Take a lot of breaks.

8. Study at a desk if possible, not in bed, or on a couch. ( We have reasons for this but trying to keep this short ;)).

9. Wear the same perfume/ aftershave/ deodorant studying as when taking your exams (lots of scientific reasons for this).

10. Visualise yourself succeeding. Visualise yourself getting your results and being happy, getting that placement, result or even that job you want so badly. Mental rehearsal works (yes, there’s proof of that too!)


1: Over-do caffeine or take vitamin supplements that you’re not used to just because you heard or read somewhere that they help you concentrate.

2: Don’t take those study drugs that people are trying to sell to students. All they care about is your money (goes for all drugs, but we digress…) and we know that the side effects can actually damage your performance.

3: Don’t engage with relatives or adults who are pressuring you (as opposed to encouraging you) to perform well. They may well have their own regrets and are now foisting them on you. #NotYourProblem.

4: Don’t tell yourself or others that you’ll fail, not even jokingly. It’s not kind and you wouldn’t do it to someone else. It also falls into a negative mindset that can mess with your motivation.

5: Don’t take fewer breaks now because you’re running out of time. Now is the time for more breaks, because you’re getting more stressed. It can feel counter-intuitive but it’s true!

6: Don’t talk to your friends before the exams if there’s a chance it will make you anxious. It’s OK to avoid people now unless they’re supportive and calming.

It’s always ok to limit exposure to people and situations that are not supportive…

That’s not just an exam tip 😉

7. Avoid chats, FB threads and friends who are panicking and negative and lying about how much work they’ve done (“I still haven’t opened a BOOK!!” – Right? You know the ones..).

Another great read:  Ready to kick the 'sorry' habit?

8. Don’t stop having fun – TV shows, Netflix, music or socialising that makes you laugh or feel good, keep doing them. Just not too late at night and remember to give your brain screen time rest for 30 mins before sleepy time.

Students in their teens need 8-10 hours of restful sleep for optimum brain functioning. It’s better to sacrifice study time than sleep time… it really is!

Sleepyweepy time!

Stay as present as you can, breathe….

You’ve got this – and we’ve got your back!

P.S. PLEASE add any tips you have that have helped you cope in the comment section below (you never know who you might be helping!).

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