Dealing with exam stress

It is normal to feel worried about exams, especially if you're under pressure from school or family. Exam stress can lead to you feeling anxious or depressed, and this might affect your sleeping or eating habits. 

If you recognise any of these feelings, or are worried that exam pressure is taking over your life, you are not alone, and there are things you can do:

  • Let your trusted friends and family know if you are struggling so they can be there to support you, encourage you and offer a listening ear. You don't have to go through this alone. Keeping it all in can make things worse in the long run, so try to open up to someone you trust.
  • Ask for help. Think about all the practical support that you need and be honest with yourself about it. You’re allowed to ask for help. Talk through your concerns with your teacher. They can let you know what support your school can offer you. They will have spoken to lots of students before who are going through similar things.
  • If people around you - like your parents/ carers or family - are putting pressure on you, it can help to tell them what you feel able to achieve and let them know that your expectations are different to theirs. You could also talk to a teacher you trust about the pressure you are under at home.

Keep it in perspective

Exams can help you take the next step in your academic or professional career - but results are not the only measure of success.

  • Have fun! Remember your life outside of exams is important too. Make a list of all the things you enjoy and find time to do them. This can reduce your stress levels, improve your mood, and help you feel refreshed and relaxed. There is no need to feel guilty for taking some you-time to unwind. You’re allowed to have a social life and interests outside of studying.
  • Keep in mind that exam results do not define who you are. You might be the person your friends come to for life advice, be the one who makes your family laugh, or something else.
  • Make a list of all the things you want from life which don't involve exams. This can help you realise that exams are only a small part of the picture.

  • Try breaking it up into chunks and create a daily timetable so you know what you want to study when. This can make revision feel less overwhelming and much more manageable.
  • Be realistic about what you can achieve in a day. An unrealistic revision plan will put you under unnecessary stress.
  • Make sure you take regular breaks from studying. Your brain cannot concentrate for hours at a time.
  • Not everyone studies the same way. Some people prefer to read, others find it helpful to make notes or draw diagrams, while others prefer to talk things through. Do what works for you.
  • Focus on you and don't compare yourself to others. It can be really stressful when you think everyone is doing better than you, spending more time on revision, or not stressing out as much. But we're all different and that's ok.

Homework is your teachers' way of measuring your understanding of what's going on in lessons. But homework can seem overwhelming at times.

Here are a few tips:

  • Understanding the task. Write down your homework task in your notebook or school planner and ask your teacher any questions you have. It's better to take a minute to ask the teacher than to struggle later that night. 
  • Create a list of the tasks you have. As you complete each task, cross it off your list. You’ll feel good when you tick things off.
  • Tackle the hardest homework first. Get the hard stuff out of the way when you’re most alert and it will be easier to get through the rest.
  • Work in a comfortable but distraction-free place. Find a comfortable chair and table to work at that is not in a noisy or busy area to stop you getting distracted. Put your phone away and avoid checking social media whilst you are trying to work. Let people at home know where and when you plan to do homework, so they'll know to be considerate and only interrupt if necessary.
  • Ask for help if you get stuck. If you come to a part of your homework that you don’t know how to do, ask a family member or friend if they can help you.