7 Top Exam Stress Tips from Students


Exam season can bring a lot of pressure. Sometimes a little pressure can be a good thing, but when that pressure turns to stress, no one’s winning. So we’ve scouted around for some of the most useful exam stress tips and strategies from students and graduates who’ve lived through university stress and survived!

Woman sitting on bed with flying books and exam stress tips
Photo by Lacie Slezak on Unsplash

Exam Stress Tip #1: Create a revision timetable

“Revision timetables helped me feel in control when faced with the mammoth task of revising for exams at university – get it all out of your head and onto paper, then all you need to think about is sticking to the plan”

Sarah, MA English Literature, University of Exeter

This is a great way to help you stay organised around the exam period. It allows you to prioritise subjects accordingly depending on the workload, mark weight and your confidence in the topic. If you are less confident in a particular subject, you can plan your time to spend longer revising it.

It’s also beneficial to revise in 30-minute time slots, with short breaks in-between. Revising in 30 minute sections gives you the chance to vary what you’ are revising in each session and revision will become less tedious. There are loads of great templates for revision timetables, like this simple revision timetable from Sussex University. Or you can use The Google Calendar to create a digital revision timetable – how sophisticated!

Exam Stress Tip #2: Exercise regularly

“Being part of Korfball society kept me sane during uni exams – I could shake off exam stress, and forget everything whilst having a good time with friends”

Rachel, BSC Biological Sciences, UEA

Not everyone’s cup of tea, but it is such a good exam stress strategy. Daily aerobic exercise can reduce stress levels and has a positive effect on your well-being. As a matter of fact, physical exercise can increase your focus and concentration and help you revise much more effectively. This doesn’t mean you have to start training for a marathon though! You can start with small steps and set yourself a goal of exercising 4 times per week.

Yoga is a great way to lower stress levels and reduce tension too. There are so many more scientifically proven health benefits of yoga that will help to keep you calm around the exam period.

Exam Stress Tip #3:    Revise with your friends!

“ I love revising with my friends, I always seem to be more productive and it helps that we can share notes too!”

James, BA Education, Liverpool Hope University

Revising alone can be rather lonely and somewhat dull. Revising with your peers is a very effective exam stress strategy as it offers various emotional benefits. A sense of social support is incorporated through group study sessions which can enhance your confidence in the subject and autonomy. Likewise, your motivation levels increase as you are surrounded with other people who are working towards the same goal. It is even better if your friends are studying the same subject as you because there is no harm in sharing your notes with each other and asking questions as you go along!

Exam Stress Tip #4: Listen to instrumental music in the background

“Music keeps me calm and focused when I’m preparing for exams or deadlines. Helps me get in the zone!”

Stephen, BA Business Studies, Plymouth University

The comforting sound of instrumental music is a well-established exam stress management strategy. There is a positive correlation between instrumental background music and level of concentration. The most famous related theory known is the Mozart effect, an idea that states listening to Mozart will enhance your cognitive performance. I’m pretty sure that listening to your favourite pop song will inevitably distract you from working, so it’s a much wiser idea to go for a classical piece that will evidently sharpen your focus.

Exam Stress Tip #5: You need sleep!

Woman lies in bed awake
Photo by Alexandra Gorn on Unsplash

“I’ve started leaving my phone downstairs when I go to bed each night, and I can’t believe the difference its made to my sleep!”

Luke, MA Geography, University of Exeter

Sleep is an imperative factor when it comes to optimum revision performance. Research states that when you cut your sleeping time in order to revise, your stress levels increase. Each person is different, but experts recommend it’s said that between 7-9 hours ias the optimum amount of sleep that is needed per night. To make the most of this exam stress tip, you need to allow your body to get into a routine. You can assist your body’s internal clock by going to sleep and getting up at a similar time each day, this creates consistency and will optimize the quality of sleep. Try swapping your phone for a book when you get into bed. Experts agree that the blue light emitted from your phone can have an adverse effect on your attempt to get to sleep.

Exam Stress Tip #6: Stay hydrated

“Since I’ve started drinking 8 glasses of water per day, I have really seen a difference in my energy levels and motivation to revise!”

Emily, Trainee Teacher, Liverpool Hope university

Hydration is key. Revision sessions can sometimes be tough and require you to focus, being dehydrated can cause you to become tired and sluggish. You should ideally aim to drink eight glasses of water per day, which will increase your brain power and make you feel re-energised. Staying hydrated will ensure that you focus, concentrate and stay alert which will definitely boost your performance during revision sessions. If you love a cup of coffee then this may be bad news. Drinking coffee can actually make you feel anxious and stressed. It is recommended that you stop drinking coffee after 2pm, but other hot drinks such as herbal teas’ are beneficial in terms of keeping you both relaxed and hydrated.

Exam Stress Tip #7: Stay off social media

“Social Media is my downfall when it comes to revising. I asked my friend to change my passwords and not let me have them until after my exams!”

Charlene, MA Art Psychotherapy, Goldsmiths

You might think that this will be the hardest exam stress tip to adhere by, but it can make a huge difference in terms of reducing your stress levels. Having a quick look on your social media pages throughout the day is the worst type of procrastination around exam time. We all know how fast time flies when we are having a quick look through Facebook feed, don’t we?

Not only this, but I’m pretty sure all of your friends will be posting about their revision struggles and how stressed they are all feeling. It is more than likely going to stress you out even more and distract you from getting some revision done.

Getting friends to change your passwords probably isn’t the best thing to do in terms of online security, but it’s important to find a way to manage your time on social media whilst revising for exams. 

Got any practical exam stress tips?

Share the love! What strategies do you use to overcome exam stress? Get in touch with us and let us know what exam stress tips keep you sane during the exam period.

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