Exam stress

During exam time, it can seem as if nothing else matters. Exams are important, but it's worth reminding yourself that they can always be taken again if you need to.

Lots of successful people did not do well in school exams. So while it's important to always try your best, remember to look after your mental health and don’t let your worries get out of control.

If exams are stressing you out, you’re not the only one. Lots of people find the thought of exams stressful - does the following sound familiar?

  • Exams make me feel worried. They’re hard and I worry I might get them wrong
  • I feel under pressure from teachers to do well
  • They make me stressed and tired
  • Exams are stressful, there’s a lot of pressure and they can have a bad effect on your mental health
  • The timetable for exams doesn’t take into consideration all the exams that are being taken at once. I feel like there’s not enough time
  • They make me panic
  • I over think everything at exam time.

Top tips for revision

Advice from young people who’ve been through exams and survived!

  • Eat well. Get enough sleep. Do a bit of exercise, even if it’s just going for a walk. It sounds stupid but it will help your brain work better when you do revise
  • Try to listen at school when they tell you anything about the exam. If you need extra help, ask for it
  • Find a good place to revise that’s quiet and doesn’t have distractions
  • Work out the best way to revise for you. Revision is just about learning facts and understanding them so you can talk or write about them in the exam. You might learn best by writing notes for yourself, or asking yourself questions to test yourself or even drawing pictures or talking to yourself
  • Don’t compare yourself to your friends. The last thing you need is conversations about how much revision other people have done or not done. Everyone learns at different speeds so do what’s best for you
  • Try not to have social media on!
  • Post-it notes on the wall helped me to learn things
  • You could record the most important parts of the lesson on your phone and play it back over and over
  • Make notes in class on your notepad and at the end of the day transfer the most important points either onto an iPad, computer or paper, whatever you prefer
  • Designing posters on each subject (with all the important facts on) helped me
  • Have regular breaks as a reward when you’ve done some revision
  • Have regular snacks
  • Do lots of short revisions sessions rather than massive long sessions
  • Set yourself targets and reward yourself when you’ve done them
  • Lying on your bed is a NO!

Surviving exam days

  • Make sure you find out in advance where your exam is and at what time. Allow enough time to get there so you’re not arriving at the last minute and stressed
  • Have some breakfast so you don’t get hungry in the exam
  • Take some deep breaths and stay calm. If you don’t know the answer straight away or get a bad question you haven’t revised for, don’t panic. Try to write something sensible that answers the question and then put lots of effort into the questions you can answer
  • Read the question properly. If it’s an essay question, you could write some rough notes at the top of your page to remind you of all the facts you want to put into the answer - then you won’t forget some of the important things halfway through your essay
  • Reward yourself when an exam is done. If you can, have a break that night
  • Don’t analyse the exam too much, just concentrate on the next one.

Worried about exams?

If you're feeling very stressed or sad about exams for a long period of time, or if you have things going on in your life that are making it very difficult for you to get ready for exams, such as family troubles, health problems or caring for a family member, talk to your school as soon as you can.

Remember you're not alone. There are lots of local services here to support you if you need a confidential chat with someone.

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