How to beat exam stress

Exams can make the best of us transform into anxious creatures, and any student without the right preparation and routine can fail on the easiest papers. The most important thing for students to master – before their revision notes – is how to beat exam stress and how to pass your exams and ensure they have the most successful revision sessions they can, there are guides that can be helpful for students too because there are plenty of things that academics say student’s get wrong in exams.

Face the truth

The first step in beating exam stress is to understand that this exam is happening – you’re doing it. Sometimes the truth can hurt, but this is near death on the pain scale. No matter how worked up you get, how long you pray for, or how many dandelions’s you make wish with you are, unfortunately, sitting that exam. Once students realise that it is definitely happening they can sit down and begin revising, because the day will come round a lot faster than anybody can imagine, so make sure that your revision techniques for exam season are well honed.

Understand your way of doing things

It doesn’t matter if one of your friends wakes up at the crack of dawn to open that Biology textbook, or if your other friend likes to stay up until 3 am each morning completing mock exam papers. As you begin your revision timetable, work out the time of the day that works best for you – and that doesn’t mean because your programme isn’t on TV, or you become tired of playing Xbox either! Understand when your body is at its peak and you really feel like the information is settling into your mind and this will be the most effective revision time for you.

People lie, especially about revision

Yes, there is such a thing as a lie, a false truth that people like to tell all over the world. This information isn’t new, but you might not know that you don’t have to believe what people tell you about their revision timetable. Some students might tell you that they have been revising for this exam for years (okay, maybe not years, but it is a really long time that no one can fathom!) or on the opposite end of the scale, like to shout about how they ‘don’t’ revise at all. Don’t allow their revision timetables to affect yours, you understand what you know and what you don’t know and how much time you need to work on each section and that’s the truth.

‘Ave a day off

A really important part of working or revision is that you need to take a break. That means you can go to the cinema or spend an evening round your friends, only you know if you’ll feel guilty or not! You’ll be the only person who knows if they completed enough revision that day. The same can be said for the opposite – your mind cannot be pushed to the limits for 16 hours a day. If you revise too much you will end up causing more harm than good. Set aside the right amount of hours and give yourself a day off when you deserve and need it.

Take a break

During your revision days – which can seem like that last forever – remember to take breaks, and at the times you set yourself too. Your mind is similar to other muscles in your body, it needs a rest from completing so much work, the same if you stood on one leg, hours and hours of this is tiresome. Once you get into a revision routine then taking breaks and going back to work will become easier over time and the time will fly by if you focus.

Fail to plan, plan to fail

Set up a schedule, plan, diary or whatever format that suits you best. Organise what subjects you are going to focus on that day, and what areas of that subject you’ll revise. It’s good to have one or two subjects to concentrate on each day – in case you become insanely bored of the first one. Try to make them as different as possible, for example, if you study Psychology and Media they’ll be great as revision buddies. As they are so different your mind won’t switch off completely once you begin on the second subject.

Set yourself goals

Set yourself goals or checkpoints to accomplish during your revision to track your progress. This could be completing sections in a textbook, conducting research, or completing online tests or mock papers. When you achieve your goal work out how well you did and compare it to what the real thing will be like, did you sit your mock paper under exam conditions? And how well did you do?

Change it up

It’s tough to do the same thing each and every day. If you always revise at the Kitchen table, at your desk or in the library then you may begin to resent it. One great thing about exams is that they always happen at the end of the academic year which is usually summer – or feels like it is! Go to a park with your friends and revise in the sunshine, sit in the garden, visit your grandparents, study at your friend’s house or even just move about your own home to change the scenery. If you are revising outside then ensure you have enough food and water to sustain you and don’t get dehydrated!

Let it go

As Elsa has told us countless times, let it go! Once you have revised the hardest that you thought humanly possible and sit that exam – forget about it. Don’t think about it until results day as there is literally nothing else you can do. This type of stress can affect your other exams if you can’t let go of the one you have already taken.