While the end of Year 12 is finally in sight, we know the stress of final exams can all become too much.

While a certain amount of stress can be motivating, too much of it can cause physical and mental problems and impinge on academic performance. Kind of defeats the purpose of all that study, right?

If you do feel a wave of stress coming on, there are simple things you can do. Following are five practical methods for dealing with exam stress.

1. Prepare and reward

Too much material with too little time to revise is a direct path to stress. As soon as your exam timetable is released, schedule in regular 50-minute study sessions and 5-10 minute breaks.

Once you’ve revised a chapter or a specific area, reward yourself with a stretch, a walk, or something to eat.

2. Talk

Seek out a friend or family member you can trust and talk about the way you’re feeling.

Having someone validate your feelings and understand what you’re experiencing can bring an enormous sense of relief.

If you don’t feel comfortable talking to anyone in your social circle, you can reach out to VUHQ - Student Service Centres.

3. Music

Research out of the Duke Cancer Institute suggests that classical music can lessen anxiety in a stressful time.

Scientists gave headphones playing Bach concertos to men undergoing a stressful biopsy and discovered they had no spike in diastolic blood pressure during the procedure. 

4. Sleep

Regular sleep is one of the most effective ways to combat stress.

It’s best to maintain your regular sleep pattern during exams. Start to wind down towards the end of each day – opt for a light re-reading of your notes instead of intense revision of a new chapter. Not only is regular sleep good for your mental health, research has shown that efficient sleep leads to better academic performance .

5. Perspective

It’s easy to get trapped in a bubble where an exam seems like the most important thing in the world.

Sure it’s an important part of your life, but allow yourself to step away from study for a little while – bake a cake, go out for dinner with a friend, play with puppies – or just head out and gain some perspective.


Writer: Marina Kalcina