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A Complete Guide to Overcoming Exam Stress

12 June 2020 | 1 comments | Posted by Elma Mrkonjic in Academia

How to cope with exam stress

Exam stress is a severe problem in British schools and schools all over the world as education starts to pay more of a role in a person's future chances of success. A lot of students develop mental illnesses during this stage of life because of exam stress. These problems continue later in life.

In this article, we’re going to discuss a few key issues that every student and parent must know. Coping with stress is not easy, even for adults. Younger generations that are encountering serious life challenges for the first time find it even more demanding.

Read on to learn everything about it!

What is exam stress?

By definition, stress is the body’s response to stressors, which are external factors affecting us personally. Stress is a complex mix of neurologic and endocrinologic system responses. Whenever the brain sees something as a threat to our well-being, it responds with stress.

The exam is one of those situations. There’s a logical fear of not doing well on an exam, so the body starts reacting to it. In some cases, these stress symptoms can be severe.

What are exam stress symptoms?

The symptoms of exam stress are much like the beginning of a depression. If they are not treated, they might become a more serious problem later in life.

Some of the symptoms are:

  • Insomnia;
  • Loss of appetite or overeating;
  • Loss of motivation;
  • Headaches, tight muscles, irritable bowel syndrome;
  • Anxiety;
  • No interest in socializing.

Symptoms may vary from person to person, but some of these will inevitably emerge before an exam.

Why is exam stress popular?

We live in a society where good grades are considered a must. Bad grades will cause a feeling of underachievement, and that makes students stressed. According to the exam stress statistics, only 837 English students out of 580,850 16-year-olds had all nines in all subjects.

That explains how hard it is to have good grades and what causes mental issues in a lot of students. The same source says that 82% of teachers think that exam pressure has the most impact on students’ mental health.

Tips to cope with exam stress

Around 15% of GCSE students fall into the category of highly anxious test takers. If you’re one of them, or you need advice on how to cope with stress before and during exams, take a look at the list below.

Have some fun after studying

It’s important not to get caught up in studying and have some time to unwind. Always plan to do something fun afterwards.

Exercise more

According to scientists, one of the best ways to cope with stress and anxiety is by exercising. Regular physical activity releases endorphins in the brain. Endorphins are essential hormones for the overall feeling of happiness.

Stop comparing yourself to others

The exam stress comes from overthinking. The realization that someone’s very successful in your class and that you won’t be able to match their success can frustrate you. It’s important to understand that you’re doing your best and that no one’s perfect.

Laugh more

Call your friends or ask your parents to do something fun with you. Laughter is one of the best ways to reduce stress. You can also play a YouTube video of your favourite stand-up comedian or listen to a podcast—whatever works for you.

How to destress after exams

Exams are just like work projects for adults. All adults enjoy vacations at least once a year, and this should be common for students too. The body and mind need to relax, and not taking anxiety seriously will only make things worse in the long run. Here are a few tips on how to destress after exams.

Go on a road trip

Ask your friends to go on a road trip and visit places you’ve never seen before. If you’ve all taken the same test, you’ll have the time to plan everything out.

The road trip will be a great way to relax, not think about school, and take your mind off the routine that was the past few months.

Have some sleep

A good night’s sleep can help you relax much more than you think. Did you know that just one sleepless night increases your anxiety by up to 30%? If you’ve spent a lot of time studying, your body and mind are exhausted, so treat yourself with some pillow time and rest properly.

Read a book or watch a movie

Your mind is probably exhausted trying to memorize course material. It would help if you had something that will make you feel relaxed. Get a bag of popcorn, watch your favourite movie, and spend two hours of quality time on yourself. Or, you can read a book and enjoy the silence and your thoughts only.

Go shopping

Everyone loves shopping. Have in mind that after everything’s done, you’ll treat yourself with something new and something you wanted for a long time. Include your parents in this. They should be happy to help relieve your stress.

What parents need to know

It’s essential to know that 50% of all mental issues arise by the age of 14. Children are prone to developing mental illnesses, and it’s the parents’ job to make sure this doesn’t happen. A school exam is something that may or may not be necessary for the future of the child, so don’t push them too far.

When the school year is over, and exams are gone, it’s essential to make sure that children are stress-free. They mustn’t be pressured. Setting new goals will seem like a never-ending game for them, which may trigger depression and anxiety.


Taking exams is hard work, but nothing’s more important than your health. Every student must know this. Still, sometimes we can’t affect our thoughts, and we stress out more than we should.

This guide should help you gain insight into why this is happening, and more importantly, how to overcome the problem.

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Recommended reading

If you enjoyed this post and have time to spare why not check out these related posts and dive deeper down the rabbit hole that is stress.

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