Tips for dealing with exam pressure

If you are currently revising for or taking exams you may be feeling pressured. Here are a few tips to help you get through your exams: 

1) Stay healthy, eat well, and exercise!

It is vital that you don’t neglect your health during the exam period. You should try to eat a healthy balanced diet. Including oily fish (such as mackerel and salmon), fresh fruit and vegetables (like blueberries, tomatoes and broccoli), nuts, seeds and wholegrain foods in your diet will help you feel more mentally alert and give you a boost.

Exercise can help to improve concentration and increase energy levels so try going for a walk, going to the gym or playing sport with a friend if the mental fatigue starts to set in.

Ensure that you sleep; don’t stay up later than usual in order to revise. Studying all night is likely to leave you too tired to remember what you have been trying to revise.

2) Organisation and preparation are key

Make a timetable with a realistic and varied revision plan and include regular breaks for eating, exercising, and relaxing. Ensure that you know which books and journals you will need for your revision and either borrow, buy, or download them early.

Put your revision notes in a logical order and use colour coding to help you find key information. Write essential information on small cards that you can keep in your pocket and refer to at any time, such as when you’re waiting for a bus or at a café.

Make sure that you know what the format of all of your exams will be and schedule mock exams (using sample questions which may be available from your course tutor) into your timetable for yourself so that you can get some practice and plan your strategy for how you will deal with each paper.

Ensure that the relevant equipment, such as calculators or dictionaries, have been approved for use in exams if required, and ensure that you have stationary (pens, pencils etc.) prepared. Find out the location of each exam and check that you know exactly how you will get there on the day.

3) Ask for help

If you have questions relating to a particular subject, ask the lecturer – they are there to help! If you feel stressed about exams or are struggling to cope, there are support networks available at your university.

Many universities and students’ unions have relaxation and stress management classes, confidential helplines, and information leaflets during exam time.

There will also be an international student adviser and counselling service. Don’t keep things bottled up if you are worried; talk to friends, family, or classmates.

4) Try to relax

It is easier said than done but relaxing really will help you. Just revise, prepare and do your best and nobody can ask for more. If you allow yourself to get stressed and don’t give yourself an opportunity to relax, it may be detrimental to your studies. Taking some time to relax actually helps you to retain information.

5) Treat yourself!

Do allow yourself time within your revision plan to have a break and do something you enjoy. Make revision more enjoyable and less of a chore by giving yourself little rewards for your achievements to keep you motivated; after doing a morning of revision you could reward yourself by going to a café with friends for lunch.

Remember that you chose to do your course in the UK and while you may be busy studying now, your year will be over quicker than you imagine so try to enjoy every minute – even the exams!

If you have any questions or require further support during the exam period, please contact the welfare team or your programme officer at the Secretariat.

Read this UKCISA blog for more advice on preparing for your exams.

Good luck!