How To Cope With Stress During Exams.

how to cope exam stress

Are you struggling to cope during your exams?

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We all know that exams can be stressful if you get into them unprepared or unsure of your preparations. Howerver, it is not only caused by preparatiion or lack thereof, but have many things contributing to it.

Stress is a feeling of emotional or physical tension. The WebMD defines stress as the body’s reaction to pressure from a certain situation or event. It can be a physical, mental, or emotional reaction.

What causes stress during exams?

There are many things that can contribute to a person's stress. The stress that most students experience during exams can be due to, among others:

  1. You find it hard to understand what you're studying.
  2. You are worried about how well you will do in the exam.
  3. You have not prepared enough or have not prepared at all.
  4. You are experiencing stress in other areas of your life.
  5. You have lots of work to do in a limited time.
  6. You have pressure to succeed.
  7. You did not study enough to guarantee a pass.

We can see that all students can experience stress during exam period. Whether top performing or underperforming, all can experience stress during exams. Therefore, do not sink your head in shame when you feel stressed by your exams.

Let us now give you tips on how to cope with stress during exams.

To mange the exam stress may require, among others, a change in lifestyle or attitude. When you have decided that you need help, adopt the following:

Have a study timetable.

Make a clear plan of how you will study. Highlight problematic topics and rank topics according to difficulty. You may also rank topics according to mark composition on the exam/test.

While studying, also make sure that you take short breaks. Take for example, 5-minute breaks every 40 minutes of studying.

When stuck on the topic, note down the confusion you have and discuss with a friend or tutor. Move on if the next topic is not dependent on the current topic. And if they are related, note them down to discuss with a friend, tutor, or teacher.

Get a tutor.

Getting a tutor will help you go through various topics at a minimum time, giving you the important tips and summarised notes, instead of rereading the whole notes.

Ramta Solutions offers exam preparation services and you will receive summarised notes and tips on how to pass different topics of your exam. In these sessions, we focus more on exam papers and what to expect in the exam. To request a tutor near you, visit our tutor request page.

Get enough sleep

According to Parenting Science, grade 8 - 12 learners should sleep for about 8.5 - 9.5 hours a day. Getting enough sleep improves concentration and productivity. As a learner, these are the things you need to make you a successful learner for your grade or class. You don't want to be yawning in class or finding yourself losing attention during class.


Getting regular exercise is vital for your health. One of the benefits of exercise is that it can calm your body when you are stressed.

According to Harvard Medical School, exercising produces endorphins, which are chemicals in the brain that are the body's natural painkillers and mood elevators. Isn't it a great thing to do to have a good mood? Now, try to exercise regularly.

Seek counselling

People like saying, "do not bottle things up." This is very true. Do not suffer alone. Talk to someone. Talking to someone is also one of the ways recommended to deal with stress. If struggling academically, it is important to talk to your parents who are the first ones you think of in the event that you fail or don't do well. Most fear talking to them because of words like, "I'm not paying your fees for you to fail." Parents can really be helpful if consulted well. They will be understanding if you tell them your struggles.

If talking to parents is still hard for you to do, talk to someone you trust like a counsellor at school or your community. Even another elder in your family whom you trust can be helpful.

In South Africa, we have organisations like SADAG who have a 24 hour service. You may talk to them about anything that is affecting you and their qualified counsellors will be there to listen to you and recommend ways you can deal with your stress. Contact them on 0800 456 789.

Talk to your teachers

Sometimes the stress is because you don't know what the test will consist of and you find that you have been thinking that you have to study all topics. Talking to your teachers can help you understand or know what the test/exam will consist of. After getting this information, you may now prepare with ease.

Eat healthy

Do not do snacks or energy drinks. Eat healthy meals. Students need to eat smarter, which means getting in enough energy, as well as enough vitamins and minerals, and all other nutrients that the body and brain need to be healthy and function optimally( extracted from UWC’s Department of Dietetics and Nutrition).

What to do on exam day?

We have covered how to deal with the stress before you sit for the test or exam. Let us now look at what to do on exam day.

  1. Pack all the things you will need for the exam, on the night before the exam. Also include a bottle of water.
  2. Eat a light breakfast.
  3. Visit the bathroom before you sit for the exam.
  4. Stay away from people who exhibit stress. This will help you to calm yourself.

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