Exam stress: 5 Top Tips to Combat Stress & Anxiety

The pressure of exams can cause serious stress and anxiety. When you’re feeling overwhelmed, it’s tempting to just try to force yourself through the workload. However, plowing ahead without taking care of yourself leads to burnout. Here are some healthier ways to manage exam stress that don’t involve going on an all-night bender down the student union bar.


How to Deal with Exam Stress


Exam stress is real, with 16.4% of post-secondary students reporting feeling highly anxious around exams. And that’s on top of the 45% of uni students who feel stressed about their course. Here are some exam anxiety tips that might help.


Revision schedule


An effective revision schedule is crucial to navigate exams successfully. Here’s how to build one:

  • Prioritise the subjects that matter most and exams that need the most preparation time.
  • Break revision into 30-60 minute intense sessions, followed by 10 minute breaks to rest your mind.
  • Set specific goals regarding the material, topics, or number of practice questions to cover in each study session.
  • Vary the subjects you study each day to keep things interesting and avoid mental fatigue.
  • Schedule in time for rest, fun, and regular breaks so revising doesn’t take over your life. It really is OK to go out one night a week with your friends!


Finding the right revision method for you


Students need to find revision techniques that work for their unique learning styles:

  • Use flashcards to condense notes down to key facts and figures for memorisation.
  • Take practice exams under timed conditions to prepare for the real exam format.
  • Create rhymes, acronyms, or mnemonic devices to aid in recalling information.
  • Simply re-read textbooks and notes multiple times if you learn best by absorbing information.


Group study


Studying in a group in our supportive learning environment can provide exam stress relief benefits like:

  • Gaining new perspectives when group members explain concepts you find difficult.
  • Keeping each other on track and accountable during study sessions.
  • Making studying more engaging by learning with friends.
  • Teaching each other topics you know well to deepen understanding.
  • Testing each others’ knowledge through practice exam questions.


When organising a study group, keep it to 3-4 people, meet somewhere focused like one of our study spaces, stick to a schedule, and ensure equal participation.


Study breaks – finding a good balance


While cramming content is important, rest and recovery are also essential:

  • Schedule leisure activities into your calendar so you have things to anticipate beyond just studying.
  • Get at least 7-8 hours of sleep per night to allow your brain to recharge.
  • Maintain relationships and social connections – don’t isolate yourself from friends.


Finding the right balance between studying and self-care helps you be productive while protecting your wellbeing.


Spend time with nature


Being outdoors can help calm the mind during stressful exam seasons:

  • Go for walks while studying if possible – being in nature can boost focus and clarity.
  • Try meditating or deep breathing outside to combine relaxation with nature’s benefits.
  • When studying indoors, sit near windows with views of greenery.
  • Take study breaks to exercise outdoors like going for a run or doing a gym session to get a mental reboot.

Try to spend 10-15 minutes outside daily for the mental health benefits nature provides.

Techniques to Help Reduce Anxiety

Exam stress often manifests as anxiety or panic attacks, which is why anxiety techniques to calm down are important. Try these tactics:


Getting Enough Sleep


All-night parties can sound tempting, but there will be another one when you don’t have an exam the next day! Prioritise sleep in the busy exam period.


Eating Healthy


Fuel your body with nutritious whole foods and stay hydrated. Limit caffeine and sugar which can worsen anxiety symptoms.


Moving Your Body


Exercising for 30 minutes daily floods your body with mood-enhancing endorphins to help calm anxiety.


Study Breaks


Take regular 10-minute study breaks to meditate or practice anxiety techniques breathing. This diffuses anxiety when it builds up.


Looking After Yourself on the Day of Your Exam


Use exam day to be extra kind to yourself:


  • Have a nourishing breakfast with protein and complex carbs for steady energy. A bowl of porridge with some blueberries is a healthy breakfast and much better for you than a slice of cold pepperoni pizza.
  • Double-check where the exam is being held and arrive early to avoid rushing so you stay calm before the exam.
  • Stay hydrated and snack on nuts, fruit or other healthy foods during long exams.
  • Don’t cram at the last minute – use any remaining time to relax and breathe.
  • Remind yourself that you are prepared for this and will succeed by doing your best.


The exam will be over quickly – reward yourself afterwards! Managing stress proactively leads to exam success.


Make sure you download the Wisdom app. It is designed specifically for students who live with us. And if you are not already living in one of our accommodations, why not come and live with us next year? Join our global community of students and enjoy free perks like 24/7 mental health and well-being support such as exam stress help, safe and secure accommodation, and a superfast Wi-Fi!


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