Surviving the exam stress

It’s here again.

Whether it’s your first year, or you are a final year veteran, exam season has arrived and with it comes some very stressful few weeks for OULS members.

Here’s my advice to help you get through it as stress free as possible:

  • Find out the layout of your exams. The best method is to print off every single past exam paper and go through them learning how to answer questions.


  • Write concise revision notes as early as possible. My favourite method for essay based exams was to write out every single possible essay exam answer then learn each essay off by heart. Exam essays tend to follow a pattern which makes it easier to learn. I made pocket notes which I used practically everywhere whenever I could or wasn’t doing anything. Sounds impossible? I learnt over 40 500+ word essays. The benefit of making revision notes before the exam and constantly using them is that, two weeks before the exam whilst everyone is trying to remember what they did 8 months ago and make a million revision notes let alone have even started revising, you will be ready for your exams. It quite literally flowed out of my head into my arm and onto the paper without me even needing to think. I actually enjoy exams now!


  • You need to think realistically. If you tell yourself you will do it tomorrow but know dam well you won’t do it, then you know you’re going to fail and you can only blame yourself on results day. If you find yourself bored then think what could I be doing right now? If I do it now then I don’t have to do it later. You must also not spend 13 hours a day going over the same thing, your brain can only take in so much and it would be a waste of time and effort. Consciously realise whether you are taking in information or not and if you aren’t go for a ten minute jog. Recap everything you have learnt just before you go to bed, it will take 10 minutes and if you do it every day it makes a massive difference to your memory skills.


  • Balance is the ultimate stress reliever. I exercise to relax and for leisure, thus I probably spent 50% studies, 30% exercise, 15% social and 5% doing nothing! I didn’t feel the need to socialise constantly, meeting up with friends for a coffee or an alcoholic drink twice a week was enough for me. So a reasonable balance would be 50% studies, 25% leisure and 25% social. Just remember you have the entire summer to socialise and not worry about studies!


  • Do you have people on your back who do not believe you can achieve high grades? Use that as motivation to prove them wrong! You need to believe in yourself!


  • As difficult as it is to revise and study, just remember it is only 1 or 2 or even 5 years of your life. You have thirty or so years of your life to enjoy once you have the qualifications. But also remember if you do fail one year, you can retake exams and again that’s only one more year in education.


  • Finally do not get stressed once you have finished your exams as there is absolutely nothing you can do. Make the most of not having to study for the time being and be realistic about how you can remedy the situation if need be.

Remember if it is all getting too much to bear, you should always feel comfortable contacting your tutor or the student support team. They’re there to help you!

Good luck!


Written by:
Catherine Howell – OULS  Reporter


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