14 tips on how to manage exam stress

A young man using a computer and looking stressed out at a café.

After a whole term of lectures, practical training sessions, seminars, tutorials and many hours of trying to understand, summarize, memorize, and revise the material from your courses, it’s time to face up to the exam period.

Are you totally ready to give your all and succeed?

To help you on the way, the SOU (the University Guidance Service) has some advice to offer you for this important stage of your degree.

A young woman at a desk surrounded by books, notes and computer.

THE DAYS BEFOREHAND

  1. Revise by going over all the material.
  2. Make sure you get some proper sleep the night before the exam: if you feel rested and fresh rather than sleepy, you’ll probably perform better, as your concentration and memory will be in good shape.
  3. Draw up a list of everything you need for the exam: your ID card, a pencil, a rubber, a pen (take two just in case) and any other specific items required.
  4. Check exactly where and when the exam will take place – there may have been a late change.

A young woman nervously bites her pen while she studies.

BEFORE YOU GO IN

  1. Have a proper breakfast. For more advice on eating, see this post.
  2. Arrive in good time: feeling calm and relaxed is important and setting out early will help you deal easily with any unexpected delays.
  3. Avoid unnecessary stress: no last-minute revising or talking about what or isn’t on the exam just before you go in.

The hand of a young woman writing in a notebook.

DURING THE EXAM

  1. Think positively: “I can do this”, “this has gone well for me before, so it will now” and “I’m ready for this exam”.
  2. Don’t think: “I’m never going to pass this”, “I can’t do this”, or “this degree is too much for me”. Negative emotions can make your mind go blank and prevent you from remembering what you’ve studied.
  3. If your mind does go blank or you feel nervous, close your eyes for a few seconds and take a few deep breaths. This will calm your nerves.
  4. Read each question carefully and, then, when you’re sure of your answer, write it down.
  5. Pay careful attention to the instructions given at the start of the exam.
  6. Take care with how much time you’re spending on each question and don’t waste precious minutes.
  7. If there’s time, go over your answers again before you give your answer sheet in.

For more advice, watch this brief ninety-second video from lecturer Rosa García.

And don’t forget that the most important thing is to have confidence in your own ability.

We hope these tips have been helpful.

Good luck with your exams!

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