Top tips for coping with exam stress

As we approach exam season, the anxiety of exams and pressure to do well are likely building in young people across the country. Exams are often an overwhelming time, especially for those who may not excel on an academic level; who instead lean more towards vocational education. To support young people at this time of year, our Clinic School teams have produced some tips and ideas to help you cope with exam stress. 



Set yourself Small, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic Targets. In other words, break down topics into small chunks and do one task at a time. This will help alleviate the feeling of being overwhelmed. 


Get organised

Find yourself somewhere quiet to study and set-up your study space. Make sure you have everything you might need and you have enough space to spread out. 


Make revision active

Create mind maps to help you organise your thoughts and ideas, or make use of index cards and highlighter pens to help you remember key information. This will help you to regain focus on the most important parts of your revision. 


Do past papers

Ask your teacher or look online for past papers. Working your way through these will help you familiarise yourself with the types of questions you will get in your exam and ease any anxiety you may have relating to not knowing what to expect. Try to complete these under timed conditions so that you can plan how much time you can spend on each question. 


Take time out

Have a pause in the day where you put down your books and relax. You could do ‘comma meditation’ where you focus on your breathing and being present in the moment, or you could listen to music or go for a walk. Whatever you choose, it’s important to take time out and have regular short breaks. 


Keep exams in perspective

While exams can help you move on to the next step academically or professional, success can be measured differently for each person. Not everyone is overly academic, others may excel at more practical skills or vocational ways of learning, which are just as important. Keeping exams in perspective of all your other achievements will help to lower the anxiety that comes with feeling the need to do well. 


Ask for help

It’s really important that you talk to someone if you are having trouble with something or if you are feeling anxious. Try speaking to a teacher, friend, parent or sibling and tell them how you are feeling.