Tips for managing stress – before, during and after exams!

Exams are stressful and to be honest there is no way to completely eradicate the anxiety they cause, however I hope the tips given below will help you better manage the exam process and ultimately reduce some of the stress you feel:

Before an exam

  • Study smart

Given the amount of information covered in a course, it is practically impossible to study everything, so you need to be selective about what you study. It’s best to uses the lecturer’s tips, past exam papers, advice from past students etc. as guidelines. Remember the key is to study smart, not hard. Click here for my tips on how to prepare for an exam

  • Exercise

Research has shown that exercise is a proven stress- reliever (See what the Mayo Clinic says here). You can go for a run, hit the gym or even just practise yoga in your room since moving your body will help you relax and get you in the right frame of mind to study.


Get moving!
  • Take time off

Even the most committed student can only study for so long before they lose their concentration. Taking the time to re-focus is crucial, so if possible I recommend taking a day off each week where you do absolutely no studying and just relax. If you can’t spare a day, even taking a few hours to watch some TV will help you unwind.

  • Organise your day and tools

Finally, to make exams less stressful you need to be properly prepared on the day. So the night before an exam, organise your day by checking the bus schedule, buying stationary, finding a watch to use, getting your meals ready, checking the campus map to locate the exam room etc. Trust me, making these preparations the night before will make exam day much less frantic and leave you less stressed!


On exam day

  • Arrive early!

Exams are stressful enough and rushing in late means you not only lose time, but also peace of mind. Arriving early allows you to find your assigned seat, relax a bit and even joke around with friends to relieve the tension.

  • Practise a relaxation technique

When you get seated in the room, I find it best to practise some sort of relaxation technique to calm any pre-exam jitters. This could be saying a prayer, taking deep breaths, or just closing your eyes and zoning out, so that you can get in a good frame of mind to tackle the work ahead.

Don’t be late!
  • Pack you snacks

Nothing is worse than trying to concentrate on an empty stomach. While some universities allow you to carry in a small snack e.g. granola bar, for others you can at least take water or gum in to help keep you refreshed. Yay! 🙂

  • Take bathroom breaks

Even if you don’t need to use the toilet – there’s value in taking a bathroom break. It allows you to stretch your legs, wash your face and honestly it just gives you a chance to step outside the tension that inevitably hovers over an exam room.


  • Distract yourself

Regardless of whether you passed or failed an exam, once you exit that room there is nothing you can do to change that grade. So there’s literally nothing to be gained from moping around or agonising over the exam, so try to focus your energy on your other exams or even on just celebrating the end of the term!

Time for cake!


  • Treat yourself

You worked hard and made it to the end – so treat yourself! I like to celebrate the end of every exam with a cake… but pick your poison and enjoy it! You deserve it!  🙂

Thanks for stopping by and please check out MY E-Supervisor before you leave!

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Dr Gabi


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