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Top ten tips for handling exam stress

With exam season upon us, below are some handy tips to keep you motivated, but calm!

1. Identify when you are starting to feel stressed

Your body could be telling you that you are stressed before you know it. You could find yourself:

· not sleeping as usual

· feeling more forgetful

· feeling less able to concentrate

· getting stomach upsets or feeling sick

· getting headaches

· acting snappier than usual

If you can identify what stress looks like for you and when it is kicking in, you are in a better position to tackle it. Pay attention to your body and mind during this period.

2. Look after yourself

On the subject of paying attention to your body and mind, look after it! You can’t serve from an empty vessel. Drink lots of water, get lots of sleep and avoid the sugar to avoid the mental slump. Make time for the things you enjoy, revision shouldn’t impact what makes you, you.

3. Make a manageable revision timetable

Use online resources to create a manageable timetable. Break subjects down into 45-60 minute chunks and include time for meals, socialising and activities you enjoy. Don’t forget to be realistic about what you can fit in a day. Here is a great example!

4. Figure out revision techniques that work for you

What works for one person may not work for another. Try out different techniques!

· posters or mindmaps

· put it in a rhyme/song

· talk about what you’ve learnt with a friend or family member

· flashcards

· past papers

· watching videos

5. A problem shared is a problem halved

If a subject is struggling to sink in, talk to a friend, teacher or family member. Talking it through may help you to see it from a different angle or have a suggestion to make things easier to understand.

6. Reach out for extra support

If it’s all becoming overwhelming, talking to someone in your school can be helpful like your form tutor or head of year. But if you’d rather talk to someone outside of your school, you could try online or over the phone resources like Anxiety UK or Young Minds.

7. Feeling under pressure?

Where is the pressure coming from? Is it yourself, your school, your family? If others are putting the pressure on, communicate how you are feeling and talk about how the people in your life can help you during this time. If the pressure is coming from yourself, focus on what can do and have faith and confidence in your ability. Putting too much pressure on yourself may have the opposite effect on your grades.

8. Practice grounding, breathing and mindfulness

· try out some breathing exercises to reduce anxiety

· practice grounding and mindfulness techniques – for example: name five things you can see, four things you can feel, three things you can hear, two things you can smell and one thing you can taste.

9. Prepare the night before

Follow this checklist to avoid any stress in the morning of your exam:

· lay out your clothes

· pack your clear pencil case and bag with everything you will need

· find your any ID you need and put in your bag

· set multiple alarms

· give yourself some extra time

· arrange how you are travelling to school (Taking the bus? Allow for it to be late!)

10. Keep things in perspective

Results aren’t the be all and end all. There are multiple options for you after your exams and it’s important to remember your GCSE grades don’t determine the rest of your life. There are so many great qualities and talents you have that aren’t defined by exams results. So do your best but keep your perspective!


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