Exam time can be one of the most stressful periods of uni life as students feel the pressure of attaining good grades to complete their degree.
Recent stats show that over 3,000 counselling sessions were given to school pupils about exam stress in 2016-17, an increase of 11% in the last two years. Experts fear that this kind of stress is on the rise, with the National Union of Teachers saying schools are becoming ‘exam factories’ – and it doesn’t slow down in uni.
Fortunately, with the right management tools and coping mechanisms, you can get through this period more easily. And with more students wondering how to cope with university exam stress, we put together a few top tips.
Seven Ways to Control Stress During Exams
1. Say no to cramming
Cramming for exams is the most stressful thing you can do. Avoid it at all costs and focus heavily on managing your time well. Know your exam timetable and draw up a study guide based on it. Prioritise subjects that you struggle with or are coming up sooner than others. Proper planning means less anxiety and panic leading up to the big day.
2. Goal digger
Set yourself various achievable study goals. These can be broken down into smaller, more manageable tasks and spread over time blocks. Once you have reached your goal, take a break, go for a walk, catch up with a friend or take a nap before tackling the next one. In fact, it is advised to avoid studying for longer than 45 minutes at a time.
3. Sleep well, eat well, do well
Forget about pulling all-nighters and living off a poor diet. For optimal brain function, you need enough sleep and a healthy diet. This means getting your nutrients, staying hydrated and cutting excess caffeine. Also, try to get some exercise, like going for a walk or doing a quick workout to clear your mind.
4. A calm environment does wonders
Create a calm environment to study in. Ideally, your study space should be quiet and tidy with natural light. Studies have shown that it increases cognitive ability.
5. Social support
Studying in groups and revising with peers are effective study techniques, while the emotional benefits of student support can boost confidence levels. Form or join a study group or involve your friends or family with your revision. If you are feeling overly anxious, speak to your school counsellor or mentor.
6. Find out how your university can support you
The Bath University Be Well initiative is a scheme to help students make small changes to live a balanced lifestyle and includes information and tips on how to deal with exam stress. At the University of Aberdeen and the University of Central Lancashire in Preston, a dedicated puppy and guide dog room was introduced. This initiative allows students to play with puppies and guide dogs to help them deal with exam stress. These are just some examples of how universities are supporting their students.
7. Let it go
Once your exams are over, accept that there is nothing you can do to change the results. Move on, get social, believe in yourself and remember that you are doing the best you can!