5 top tips for keeping exam stress under control

May and June are ‘exam season’ and many of you might be facing GCSE, A level or University exams. It’s a nerve-wracking time for some but it doesn’t have to be. As they say, if you must have butterflies at least get them flying in formation! To train your ‘butterflies' follow our handy guide to getting exam nerves under control.

How to reduce exam stress

  1. Get enough rest. It’s tempting to spend less time sleeping and pull a few ‘all-nighters’ when exams are coming up but, skipping sleep is a good way to get more stressed about your exams. On the other hand, getting enough sleep can help you stay calm and focussed. Here are some suggestions:
    - Try to get a full (normal for you) night’s sleep whenever possible.
    - If you must study late at night, get a few hours' rest earlier in the day so you put less strain on your body.
    - Ensure your bed, mattress and pillow are comfortable so you sleep well when you do go to bed.
  2. A revision schedule is a must.
    - Write it out and colour code it – but don’t spend too much time doing this when you should be revising.
    - Ensure your schedule is realistic, and allow more time for the topics or subjects you find most challenging.
    - Mix up your subjects so you have a variety of subjects and approaches each time you sit down to revise.
  3. Drink herbal teas instead of caffeine (or alcohol if you're old enough to be able to!). There are many herbal teas available that calm the nerves and soothe the jitters. Ingredients to look for include chamomile and lavender. Some people also find mint refreshing. In the days prior to the exam, have a cup or two of herbal tea each day. This can put you in the right frame of mind to relax, concentrate, and absorb all that you're studying.
  4. If you find a question you really don’t know the answer to. This can be very upsetting, but it happens occasionally.
    - First, don’t panic: high levels of stress switch off the thinking brain. Take a couple of deep, calming breaths and read the question again, slowly (you might have misread it the first time).
    -  Underline a couple of key words in the question – have you answered anything similar in the past?
    - Consider coming back to the question later, and spending more time on questions you are more confident about.
    - In the end, write something – any answer is likely to get better marks than none.
  5. If all else fails and you have to re-sit, plan to be better prepared next time. It’s exhausting to commit an entire year's work to memory in the last few days before the exams. To be better prepared:
    - It’s easier to be reminded of something than to learn it for the first time, so revise each topic as it's taught.
    - Make a list of the main points you need to know, which you can use to guide your learning nearer the exams. 

Managing the stress of exams is certainly attainable if you follow these simple tips.

You may not always feel perfectly prepared for every exam you take. But managing your exam stress will help you get the best mark possible.


Author: is a professional stress management coach, specialising in working with individuals and smaller employers to minimise stress and maximise feeling in control.Debbie is the author of Their Worlds, Your Words and has co-written the Hypnotherapy Handbook both of which are available from Amazon.
Find out more about Debbie's services on www.yorkshirestressmanagement.com  or phone 01977 678593


  1. This was a very meaningful post, so informative and encouraging information, Thank you for this post.

    How To Deal With Stress


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