Whether you enjoy or endure them, for most students, exams are a fact of life.
And while each set of exams will bring its own pressures, A-levels can be particularly daunting, especially if your university place depends on achieving a good set of grades.
It’s perfectly natural to experience a certain degree of stress and worry around exam times, and for many students this can actually be a motivating feeling. For others, however, it can become overwhelming.
Here are some tips to dealing with stress during exams:
Recognise your stress
Firstly it is important to recognise when you are feeling stressed.
It might sound obvious, but it’s possible to become so focused on revision and exam preparation that you overlook the tell-tale signs of stress, which can include difficulty sleeping, feelings of anxiety or irritability and a loss of interest in other activities.
Talking about your feelings with a friend or family member can help, or speak to your teachers if you’re feeling overloaded.
Look after yourself
It’s more important than ever to look after yourself at exam time, which means eating healthily, sleeping well and exercising regularly.
Tempting though it is to break open the biscuits, try to avoid junk food and high-energy snacks and drinks such as chocolate and coffee, as these will only make you feel worse in the long run. Instead, opt for plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables and drink lots of water.
When it comes to sleep, try to avoid too many late revision sessions if you can, as these can cause irregular sleep patterns. Instead, focus on getting a good eight hours a night.
Physical activity can also help de-stress your body and mind, so a jog or even brisk walk after school could help re-set your mind.
Don’t compare yourself to others
During exam time it’s natural to want to compare yourself to your friends or classmates by discussing your revision timetables or exam preparation tactics. This can be made worse by the culture of social media sharing.
Comparing yourself to others can make you feel worse, leaving you doubting your own efforts, performance and capability.
Don’t worry about what your friends are doing, just focus on yourself.
Don’t carry out an exam ‘post-mortem’
As with the example above, you should avoid the temptation to compare your exam performance with that of your friends or classmates, as this kind of ‘post-mortem’ could add to your stress.
You can’t change what happened in the exam room, so don’t make yourself feel worse by focusing on it.
Instead start thinking about the next exam or, if they are over, something else entirely!
More information and resources
Student Minds: http://www.studentminds.org.uk/examstress.html
Times Higher Education: https://www.timeshighereducation.com/student/advice/how-deal-exam-stress