How to deal with exam stress?

coping with exam stress

Have exams coming up? Sometimes the pressure you feel can give a motivational push, other times it can also cause exam stress. Check out these best tips to help you cope with stress during your upcoming exams.

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Stress is a normal response to pressure. A small amount of pressure can be a good thing to keep you focused during exam time if it becomes too much study can seem impossible. If you’re experiencing exam stress, it’s very essential to keep reminding yourself that this is only a small part of your life, even though it might not feel like it at the time.

What does exam stress feels or look like?

Signs & Symptoms of exam stress may include:

  • losing touch with friends and the activities you enjoy
  • feeling moody, low, or overwhelmed
  • having trouble making decisions
  • losing your appetite or overeating
  • sleeping poorly and struggling to get out of bed
  • difficulty getting motivated to start studying
  • tense muscles or headaches
  • clammy hands or feeling butterflies in your stomach
  • a racing heartbeat or feeling sick
  • fidgeting, nail-biting, or teeth grinding
  • feeling confused, or having your mind going blank during the tests.
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Why do people experience exam stress?

  • Don’t feel properly prepared
  • Want to do really well
  • Don’t have much time to study
  • Need to get a certain result
  • Don’t think they will do well
  • Find it hard to understand what they’re studying
  • Feel pressure from family to get good marks
  • Feel they need to compete with others
  • Have lots of stuff happening in their life
  • Worry that they might fail.

How can I manage it?

Here are some tips which can help you manage it.

Create a good study environment

Find a clean and quiet place to study without distractions. Set-up your study space. Make sure it’s not too cluttered and has everything you might need.


When too much goes on into our head, we forget to breathe. So it will be better if you try doing some mindfulness meditation. It will help you to relax and calm down your body’s stress response and shift your focus back to the present moment.

In turn, this gives you time to rationally think through the worries you have, getting rid of unhelpful thoughts, and enables you to deal with a large number of exams and begin more effective revision. 

mindfulness meditation

Taking care of your body

Eat healthily, sleep properly. and exercise well. Do not try to become a night fighter who survives on a poor diet, and gets minimal amounts of movement during the whole day. This can increase your symptoms of anxiety. For your body’s best performance, try to make sure that you’re getting 8-9 hours of good sleep, less caffeine, and more water, and at least 20-30 minutes of exercise daily.

coping with exam stress 2

Set only realistic goals

Try to set only realistic goals which you can actually achieve whether you have several weeks, days, or hours before your exam. Accepting your situation and working within the realms of what you have maximizes your productivity without the risk of burning yourself out.

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Study in group

You should try to revising with your peers. This is an effective study technique because it allows individuals to better absorb their knowledge. It also provides you the much needed emotional and social support which will instill a better sense of confidence and autonomy.

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Pace yourself through panic

If you are getting panic, then try taking at least six deep breaths, hydrate yourself with water, and then go back to the problem at hand, make sure to break it down into several, manageable chunks. Always remember that there is usually a rational solution to every problem, even if you are unable to see it at first glance.

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Change your negative thoughts in to positive ones

Identify your negative thoughts and change them into positive thoughts. Negative thoughts such as I can’t do it are pessimistic in nature and they are literally not helpful. These thoughts are holding you back from gaining your self-confidence. Convert these negative statements into positive ones. For example, if you think I can’t do it then change this statement as I can do it if I work on it.

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Dr. Ankit Gaur

Dr. Ankit Gaur is a Counsellor and Family Therapist. He is an experienced healthcare professional holding two post-graduate degrees (MSc in Counselling and Family Therapy, and PharmD}. His area of specialization lies in the field of counselling and family therapy covering all types of patients from different age groups such as pediatric, geriatric, adolescents, adults, and marital couples.

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