Exam Stress

The term ‘exam stress’ seems a glib and understated phrase to use for the pressures students everywhere are facing as they deal with exams. For generations so far removed from what today’s students go through, it simply doesn’t encompass the real troubles students can experience at this time. From that little knot in the stomach, to sleepless nights and real depression, exams can sometimes seriously affect the mental health of students.

Here’s how to put your worries aside and embrace the exam period as best you can.


The last thing you want to do when the sun is shining, and the weather is glorious, is hunker down and bury yourself in some study books. Surveys among students often show that motivation to get started is one of the biggest problems. It can quickly lead to anxiety and stress; that cloud of dread follows you around, getting bigger and bigger the longer you put off studying.

Chances are, a lot of your friends and classmates will be in the same boat. Creating study groups is a great way to motivate each other, and also a great way of studying. If somebody struggles with one thing, another may have a good solution.

How to study

Maybe studying with others doesn’t work for you, or maybe it just turns into a social gathering with little work getting done. Figure out what works best for you. Not everyone is academically minded, and more hours doesn’t always mean more studying.

Are you a visual learner or a sequential learner?

What is your concentration limit – 10 minutes? 20 minutes?

You don’t have to limit yourself to books when you study, as there are tons of choices when it comes to innovative thinking and studying – such as Your Smartest Friend at School.  Sometimes mixing up your routine can bring a fresh line of thought to your studies.

Being organized

Be visual, be organized, be on top of everything. It sounds easier said than done, but spending a couple of hours planning out what and when you will do everything can make a difference and take a load off your mind. Your brain is not equipped to be your personal planner on top of studying, memorizing, and trying to keep calm. You may even find that once everything is laid out in a planner, it isn’t anywhere near as daunting as you thought. Plan out short study slots and stick to them.

Being healthy

You will be told this a million times over by teachers, health professionals, parents, and everyone in between, but it is crucial. If you want to study efficiently and keep your head together, you must take care of yourself. When you feed your body, you feed your brain – so stay away from MacDonald’s! Fruit, veg, fish, nuts, and water, water, water. Exercise is also important, which isn’t to say you should be pounding it at the gym, but go for regular walks every day. We all know how to do it, don’t we?

Positive thinking

Never underestimate this one! The mentality you engage going into something is proven to have an effect on how you do. Therefore, if you think you can do well, you will. Try to be positive during your studies and your exams. We all have off days, and if you are feeling particularly negative, then skip your revision for a while. There is little point trying to cram in information when every part of your being is raging against it.

Sleep, rest and socialize

Don’t feel guilty about any of this. Just like food and exercise, you need to let your body and mind rest. See your friends, watch trashy TV, and take naps. No one expects you to study 12 hours a day. Without sleeping, resting, and seeing other people, those 12 hours equate to a lot less in quality study time.

Remember that there will always be people who like to pretend they hardly study at all. There will always be people to like to pretend they study 24/7. Don’t worry about anybody else but yourself. And once you’re done, make sure to leave your stress at the exam hall.

While these are helpful tips during a stressful time, it is always recommended you see a doctor or professional concerning more serious issues.


About Neil Movold

I am the founder and CEO of InsightNG. I have a career spanning across Canada, Australia, Bermuda and New Zealand. For most of my life, I have been keenly interested in how our human brains function at a cognitive level. When my son Jaden was born with Spina Bifida, my interest in human cognition became more focused, resulting in the creation of InsightNG. My current interests lie in the areas of social learning, open innovation, collective & contextual intelligence, knowledge discovery, findability and content visualization.