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How to manage stress in the lead-up to exams

3 min read
13 May 2022

The exam period can be a stressful time for any student, whether at school or uni. Jess, 18, shares their tips for managing stress and nerves around exams.

With GCSEs, A-levels and other exams fast approaching, many young people are feeling the familiar wave of stress. The lead-up to exams has always been a very stressful and difficult period for most students, however as this year is the first year that exams are going ahead after a two-year break due to Covid-19, exam season may feel particularly stressful this year.

Unfortunately, many young people are not getting the support that they need, so I wanted to write this blog in the hopes that it would help some young people cope with stress during the lead-up to exams.

You are so much more than your grades. So, whatever the outcome of your exams, be kind to yourself.

Routine and structure are key...

While revising for my exams this year, I have realised that I am someone who becomes less stressed when I have a structured daily routine that I can follow, and I am sure that there are many other people that feel the same way.

However, I have found that by making a to do list that includes a lot of stressful activities, such as revision, I am less likely to complete my work, which then leads to increased stress and anxiety levels.

...But try to include regular breaks

Over the past two weeks I have altered the way that my to do lists look, and it has really helped. I started by reducing the number of revision sessions I was doing each day, as I find it most helpful and least stressful when I only have two or three blocks of revision to do in one day.

I have also found that putting in time for activities that I enjoy alongside revision helps me to de-stress, so I’ve started adding in time throughout the day to take a break and read or watch a TV show that I like. I've found that including activities that I look forward to in my daily schedule helps make revision feel more bearable.

I've found that including activities that I look forward to in my daily schedule helps make revision feel more bearable.

Make time to unwind

While exams may seem like the most important thing in young people’s lives, it can be easy to neglect self-care. It is important to take care of yourself as well as revising, otherwise you will not be able to perform well. Some things that you can do to take care of yourself during this time are taking a relaxing bath, going on a walk with a family member or a friend, or taking an evening off to watch a film that you love.

The lead-up to exams can be a very stressful time for everyone, and it’s totally normal to feel worried or anxious. But please remember that you are not alone.

The lead-up to exams can be a very stressful time for everyone, and it’s totally normal to feel worried or anxious. But please remember that you are not alone, and there is always someone available for you to talk to, whether that’s a friend, a family member, an adult you trust or a helpline like the ones listed at the bottom of this page.

It’s also important to remember that you are so much more than your grades. So, whatever the outcome of your exams, be kind to yourself. All you can do is try your best. You’ve got this.

More information and advice

We have tips and advice to help you find the support you need. Take a look at our guides.

Where to get help

However you're feeling, there are people who can help you if you are struggling. Here are some services that can support you.

Thanks for sharing your story Jess, 18

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