Dealing with Exam Stress


Aditi Jain

Psychology Associate

Even if we have revised for our syllabus for exams 3 times already, made notes with 15 different pens or practiced every exam paper from previous years, we are still likely to feel stressful during exam days.

Most of us feel anxious, uncertain and nervous during the exam days and especially 15 minutes before the exam. While preparation reduces stress to some extent, there is also a certain level of anxiety associated with the whole cycle of exams and results.

Here are some tips to help deal with exam stress:

1. Commit to the schedule

We all have a tentative schedule that we try to follow; some of us have a very structured one, whereas some have a less structured one. But that difference doesn’t matter, what matters is our commitment to it. Even if it takes us an extra hour of studying someday in order to stick to the schedule, we should do it. If we commit fully to our schedule we feel very much in control and confident about our pace.

2. List distractions and stressors

Let’s make a list of all of the things that distract us and stress us. These may be things like Netflix or Instagram, which can be temporarily uninstalled. For the things that stress us, we can avoid interaction with them. It could be a friend who keeps asking how much of the syllabus we have covered already or a WhatsApp group that keep sending useless exam “tips” at 1 am in the night. These can be blocked till the exam is over. During exam time, the urge to watch Netflix or gossip on WhatsApp is even stronger than normal days, because our brain wants to avoid doing the work; but they end up getting us even more stressed and also interfere with preparation. However, with a little willpower and discipline, we can avoid these stressors.

3. Self reassurance

Thoughts like “I am going to fail” and “I don’t know anything” will find their way into our mind. But we need to reassure ourselves that we have worked hard and that we are studying to understand the rest. Seeing that we have stuck to our schedule definitely can be a confidence booster. Also, taking mock tests or practicing previous years’ question papers can help us revise and have an idea as to how well we are doing.

4. Going for walks

Everyday, we can just take a 15-20 minute walk or go for a quick run. This will relieve stress and divert our mind from the fear of exams for some time. Fresh oxygen and the energy rush will help refresh our mind and help start our studies more energetically. Exercising helps release neurotransmitters responsible for happiness and feelings of contentment, which would, in turn, make our studying more joyous.

Eat, study, sleep, repeat

We need to make sure that our diet consists of more fruits and vegetables but less caffeine. It might seem like coffee makes us concentrate better, but all it does is disturb our sleep patterns. A continuous sleep of 6-8 hours is extremely important and necessary for the brain to retain the information that we have consumed. Research has shown that people who slept after studying remembered it better than those people who were given another activity to do. So eat healthy and don’t skip your sleep.

These tips might sound very basic because we hear them continuously from everyone around us, but we need to consciously make an effort to follow them, otherwise, we will only be putting ourselves under additional pressure. Exams are surely stressful, but life has bigger challenges too. By making sure we handle ourselves well during exams, we can train our mind to perform well not only the exam time itself, but also in the future in different situations.

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Rohit Chopra
Very true. These are basic but evergreen techniques on how students can beat exam stress. Often, even students who are sincere and hardworking perform dismally in exams not due to a lack of preparation, but simply due to anxiety and fear. Hopefully this writeup will help in reducing that anxiety.
Tulika Agarwal Jain
It’s so wonderfully explained. Though seem simple but if one can follow these things it’s works like magic. Thank u.