GRADE 12 learners all over South Africa have commenced their final-year National Senior Certificate Finals exams. For many South Africans, these exams mark the beginning of their career as the matric certificate opens doors to higher education. While any ordinary exam is stressful, the NSC exams are way more stressful because of their significance. It is imperative for this kind of stress to be managed as it can be detrimental to the outcome of your results. Here are some tips from student experts on how to deal with exam stress. The Skills Academy emphasises the importance of planning your study routine as this contributes to a balanced mindset. Here are their tips:

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Ten-minute rule

Taking on a big chapter all at once can be intimidating, and you can end up discouraged before you even start. So here’s a trick – break down your work into bite-size pieces. Once you have selected your work, focus on it for 10 minutes. You’ll soon see that 10 minutes turns into 30 minutes, and so on. 

Study schedule

When you look at your exam timetable, all you see is how much time you don’t have left till the day you write. That’s why a study schedule is a great power tool to have. Looking at your timetable, create a schedule that allows you to study all your material well in advance and gives you some downtime. 


You know how diets have cheat days? Well, you should have study reward days. This is just something you give yourself for sticking to your study schedule and for studying hard. It can be anything from ice cream to a day out with your friends. But remember, there has to be a balance. It can’t be all play and no work.

Be an early bird 

A student that gets up early gets more done. Sleeping in may feel good at the moment. But it’s a disadvantage when studying. By starting your day early, you can cover more material and still have time to yourself. Getting up early also means that you can go to bed early. So, no staying up till midnight. 

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On the other hand, mental health is an important factor. The academy describes your brain as more than just a machine you use to store your notes when studying. Much like a car engine, your mental health has to be taken care of. Otherwise, your machine won’t work as well as it should.  Here are some tips for taking care of your mental well-being during exams: 

Find someone to talk to 

Having someone to confide in is always good for our mental health. You can go to a professional, a family member or a friend. This person can also be a pillar of strength when you need motivation. 


Self-care doesn’t have to be a spa day. It can be a long bubble bath with some scented candles or even a day in the park. Point is, even though you have to study, you also have to take care of yourself. 

ALSO READ: Final exams: How to curb year-end fatigue and achieve top results

Take breaks 

Have you ever hit a study wall? It’s the point of a study session where you feel like you can’t focus anymore. Get up and take a break. Your brain might need some fresh air. Take this time to grab a snack and some water and go stretch your legs. 

Physical and mental exercise 

The best thing to do when you feel like the world is spinning is to find your centre. You can do this with a few breathing exercises and quick workouts. Don’t stress – you don’t have to get a yoga club or gym membership. Thanks to the internet, you can find breathing and body exercises to do from the comfort of your home. 

The Caxton team wishes all Grade 12 learners, and all students who are writing exams, a peaceful and prosperous exam time.


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