Top tips and tools for managing exam stress

What are the top three tips to help students prepare and manage stress levels in and around exam time?


Stress is a normal part of life. Good stress improves your energy to reach your goals. Bad stress is harmful to your discernment and immune system. Learn to turn stress into fuel to achieve goals. We change our behavior in accordance with our emotions, and our emotions are shaped by circumstances and peer influence, but they can also be triggered by inner stimuli and thoughts.


Tip 1

Adopt a growing mindset and recognise that you are in control.

Know what adds value to you and know what does not. For example, if exercise has a positive impact on how you perform/study, then exercise more. If going to bed late and sleeping in makes you feel tired, then don’t do it. Take control of the positives and negatives! When you are in control you perform more assertively.

Tell yourself that mistakes are normal, and effort and discipline are essential to succeed.


Tip 2

Stay focused. Focus on what you need to do to pass your exam. Identify your main goals and direct the majority of your energy to those areas of your life.

Say “No” to unnecessary requests and say “Yes” to yourself and your priorities or needs. You owe it to yourself to respect your own time enough to know where you want and need to spend it.

Staying focused also helps you to be focused with your time. Create a study routine that works for you. This could be two consecutive hours or 30 mins with a 30-minute break between each study period. Studying for hours on end without anything sinking in can be very stressful!


Tip 3

Take responsibility and be in charge of your emotions.

It’s easy to push the blame for your stressful state on someone else. It’s harder to own what you’re feeling and try to change it. Ask yourself why you’re feeling so much pressure. Take notes, change what you need to change to reach your goals. Plan and tell yourself you can face and overcome the situation and, if needed give yourself permission to slow down and relax.

You need to control your emotions to create the mental state you need to reach your goals and give yourself as many chances as possible to pass your exams.

And don’t forget – eat a healthy diet and ensure you get enough sleep!


What learning tools would you advise to use during exams?


Time management: Define your goals, find your “why” and see the big picture. It will give you the motivation to take massive action, and then set specific steps as to how you’ll measure your results.

A powerful tool is to model behaviour. Look at the successful students in your class and observe what is working for them. If it works for them it may work for you. Try it!

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