How to cope with exam stress - Susanah Rwamakuba, Christ's Hospital <i>(Image: Ben Mullins)</i>

How to cope with exam stress - Susanah Rwamakuba, Christ's Hospital (Image: Ben Mullins)

So I'm sure we all know that feeling when you’re about to take a test and you’re absolutely terrified, I’m sure you have every right to be as tests can determine whether we get into sixth forms, colleges, universities or even our dream jobs. There’s a lot riding on them so it’s perfectly natural that we might experience some anxiety leading up to the event, but I’m sure when you’re in a deep panic thinking about all the possible repercussions of your failure, you’re not consoled by the knowledge that other people feel the way you do and that worry is a normal emotion to feel. If you have no idea what I’m talking about, that’s fine, but if you can relate, here are  3 tips to pull you out of that deep, dark abyss of worry and into a calmer, more rational mindset.



Yeah I know, you’re already doing it but there’s much more to it than that. Focusing on your breathing and trying to control it can be a great way to still your mind. Personally I recommend the 4,7,8 technique. It’s where you breathe in for 4 seconds, hold it for 7 seconds  and exhale for 8 seconds . The counting takes your mind off any other things that might be grabbing your attention, the chatter of other students, that one topic you’re not quite sure of or the fact your chair might be a bit uncomfortable. Doing this until your breathing pattern returns to a regular rhythm can help to keep you grounded, ready for anything the paper might throw your way.



On yourself. It can be so unnerving to hear the amount of revision that other people have been doing and sometimes, even when you know you’ve given it your all, you can automatically feel underprepared. It is so important to be secure in yourself and your ability, and know that one person’s success does not guarantee your failure.



Okay technically, you can’t do this one just outside of the exam room, I included it because it’s probably the most important one, and will help prevent any stress from external factors like lack of sleep, not having eaten or being dehydrated. By getting enough sleep, drinking enough water and eating a healthy breakfast, you are much more likely to have the energy necessary to get through a day of exams. It also helps knowing you did all that, it’s what you’re supposed to do so you can be secure in the knowledge you did everything correctly and you are physically in the best possible mode to get through a most likely draining day.


I hope reading this helped and  I wish you good luck on whatever exam you’re about to take. Provided you’ve prepared somewhat, the knowledge is inside of you, you just have to be calm enough to access it. Also don’t be afraid to make stuff up if you’re stuck it might be right, better than nothing in my opinion.

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