Skip to main navigationSkip to main content
The University of Southampton
Enabling ServicesPart of Student Services

Managing Exam Stress

Published: 9 May 2019
Three students studying

During the exam period, some students will find themselves feeling stressed or anxious. Whilst some stress can actually be helpful to motivate your revision, in some cases it can escalate to a level that also impacts both your performance and wellbeing. Thankfully there are lots of ways you can manage your stress levels, and lots of things you can do to boost your relaxation and performance. Check out our Top Tips and Useful Downloads below for managing your exam stress and anxieties.

Top Tips

Make a Revision Plan

Take the time to get organised ahead of your exams - start by focusing on the basics like when and where you will study most effectively, and how long you will dedicate to each task. If you go slightly off schedule, don't panic – tomorrow is another day! Read some tips for making the most out of your revision.

Take Regular Breaks

As well as planning out your revision, you should also schedule breaks for relaxation. For every 45 minutes try to take a 10-15 minute break to unwind, or you could try the Pomodoro technique.

Practise Self-care

It can be easy to let little things slip when we are stressed. We can fall into habits which negatively impact our wellbeing like setting unrealistic goals, cancelling fun plans, overusing stimulants (e.g. caffeine, alcohol, drugs). Keep it simple and focus on good habits that will actually improve your ability to study and succeed.

  • Eat well: too much sugar or fatty food may cause dramatic surges of energy, but will also leave you feeling drained. Stick to slow-releasing energy foods such as fruits, vegetables, and wholegrains. 
  • Drink water: staying hydrated will help your mind and body function properly under stress. If you’re not keen on drinking water, try some herbal tea!
  • Exercise: doing something active like walking, cycling or yoga releases endorphins in your body which make you feel happier. You could even try England Athletics' #RunAndRevise scheme.
  • Sleep: getting enough sleep can improve focus and efficiency. Our memories are backed-up when we sleep, which is especially important during the exam period. Try our online workshop called Getting a Good Night's Sleep for more information.
  • Relax: Relaxation podcasts can be an easy way to stay calm as you study. You could also try an online workshop or use our self-help guides which deal with anxiety and stress.
  • Reward yourself: studying for exams is not an easy task. Make sure to remind yourself of how far you’ve come, and take the time to pat yourself on the back. Balance studying with something enjoyable or relaxing – take a hot bath, listen your favourite album or enjoy a small treat every now and again.

Keep it in Perspective

While exams are significant, it is important to remember that they aren’t everything and certainly aren't the only element that defines you as a student. Reflect on how far you’ve come and your previous academic successes that have gotten you to where you are now. It might be helpful to remember that employers don’t just look at exam scores, nor is it likely that your course is based entirely on your exam score.

Ask for Help

Talk it out! If you are feeling overwhelmed, stressed or anxious it can be helpful to talk about it. Come to a Student Support Drop-in, or contact Student Life. Alternatively, you could learn techniques to help you deal with exam stress in our Managing Exam Anxiety workshop on Wednesday 15th May.

The Academic Skills Hub at the Hartley Library also offer lots of online and in-person resources to ensure your revision is efficient and effective.

Learn skills at one of our workshops

Hypnosis for Exam Success: there are still spaces left for Hypnosis for Exam Success sessions on Friday 10th May and Friday 17th May.  These hypnosis taster session will help you learn how to take more control over your anxiety and prepare for success in those exams.  Join us in a relaxed environment to learn more about hypnosis and its benefits. Please book your slot on one of these workshops via the links above.

Wellfest: join in our celebration of wellbeing on Wednesday 15th May - you can sign up to a range of workshops inlcuding Managing Exam Anxiety or drop by and participate in our fun activities like mocktails and mini-massages.

Please visit our events page to see what other events are coming up.


Privacy Settings