Exam season doesn't have to be a scary or daunting time. While a small amount of stress is normal and even helpful for focus, large amounts of stress and anxiety can be counterproductive to achieving our goals. Incorporating some tips to deal with stress can help your exam season run more smoothly. From taking a break to watch a film, to getting some exercise in the fresh air, there is something to help everyone.
1. Talk to someone
Talking to people you trust and love about how you feel can help to deal with stress and anxiety. You may discover you are not alone in your feelings and that other students around you are also apprehensive. You can then better help each other get through the exam season.
The mental health charity YoungMinds says that “You don't have to go through this alone. Keeping it all in will only make things worse in the long run, so don't be afraid to open up.” Additionally, “spending time with a friend can help you take your mind off whatever is making you feel stressed.”
2. Get active
Exercise helps to release endorphins and clear the mind. While it may feel like you are wasting time and not working, you will likely be more efficient and productive after a break. Even a simple ten-minute walk outdoors everyday can help improve your study routine and mental health. Harvard Health Publishing says that “Moving your body decreases muscle tension, lowering the body’s contribution to feeling anxious.”
Jahan from Reading University agrees. “I de-stress by making time in the day to go to the gym and spending time with my friends,” she says.
3.Take time for yourself
Exam season need not be boring and dull. Mix things up by doing something different every day. After studying, why not try cooking, baking, reading, yoga, or listening to a podcast or some music? These can help to improve your mood and act as a reward for your hard work. Oxford University advises to “Include a couple of free evenings each week in your timetable for relaxation.” YoungMinds agrees that “it’s impossible to focus without giving your brain rest by doing other activities.”
“I destress by taking regular study breaks and listening to music with my friends,” says Zaki from Oxford Brookes University.
Faith plays an important role at all stages of life, especially during unsettling times like exam season. Remember to keep your faith close, and retain a sense of perspective. Exam results are not everything!
4. Set goals and be organised
Try planning your days in order to make the most of your revision. Being organised facilitates a structured revision session, to be more efficient with your time. However, setting goals should be motivating, not demoralising.
“Don’t set yourself ridiculous goals,” says Student Minds. “Nobody can revise 10 topics in a day! Avoid setting the day up to be a disappointment.” Nina, studying for her A-levels in Singapore says “I set goals at the start of each study session, and destress by studying in different places like libraries or coffee shops for a change of scenery.”
Click here to download an exam revision template to help structure your study time.
5. Don’t dwell on the past
Once you’ve completed an exam, move your focus to the next one. There’s no point looking back to dwell on mistakes that cannot be changed. Look to the future instead and prepare for the next one. The UK’s National Health Service suggests students should “Discuss the parts that went well rather than focusing on the questions they found difficult. Then move on and focus on the next test.”
Henry from the University of Bristol said that “I destress by making sure I always get my full eight hours of sleep and focusing on the next exam!”
If these tips don’t help, don’t worry. Sometimes things can become overwhelming and that’s completely normal. If you need it, support is available from the Jamati institutions, from your school or university, and your family. Exam results are important, but they don’t always accurately reflect a person’s knowledge, skills, or experiences, and don’t define a person’s worth.
“Being proficient at rote skills is not the same thing as being educated,” said Mawlana Hazar Imam at a speech in Atlanta, USA, in 2008. “And training that develops skills, important as they may be, is a different thing from schooling in the art and the science of thinking.”