Exam stress tips from Suffolk MIND

As teenagers prepare to sit their GCSEs and A-Levels, Suffolk Mind has shared advice on how to reduce exam stress. 

The 2023 exam season is due to get underway from 15th May, which can be a stressful time for young people as a result of increased pressure.  

Louise Harris, Children Families and Young People’s Training and Content Manager at Suffolk Mind, said: “Exams can be extremely daunting for people of all ages. They come with a lot of pressure which can result in high levels of stress.  

“While it is natural to feel stressed under these circumstances, too much stress can have a negative impact on mental health, and it may also impact performance during exams.  

“Recognising stress in the body and having strategies to deal with it can help us to feel that even when we are under pressure, we are still able to perform to the best of our ability and remain calm enough to do so.”  

Exam stress can cause a number of different emotions and physical feelings, and while it is normal to feel anxious about exams, Suffolk Mind has shared some strategies to help: 

·        Turn stress into stretch. Make the revision and exams suit you, so you feel motivated to stretch into it. Try to consider them a challenge or opportunity to show what you DO know. Focus your attention on what you have achieved rather than what you still have left to do.  

·        Make a revision timetable. Create an achievable routine to revise to help meet your need for control, while ensuring you have time for other things such as movement to help you remain focused.  

·        Find a balance. In addition to revising, find time to do things you enjoy such as seeing friends or loved ones. This can help you meet your need for community and attention, while returning to revision feeling refreshed.  

·        Revise in the best place for you. Having a quiet place to focus can help us soak in information. So, if you have a busy household or share a bedroom, meet your need for privacy by revising in your local library or your local park. Some people find using headphones, even with the music off, can help them to focus. 

·        Feed your body and your mind. Our need for food and drink can be easily forgotten when we are busy. Our brains use large amounts of energy, so make sure you maintain a balanced diet with regular food and drink intake. If you begin feeling worried or lose focus, try eating snacks that are low in sugar and caffeine, and drinking a glass of water.   

·        Avoid all-nighters. Swapping a good night’s sleep for revision might seem like a good idea, but our need for sleep is incredibly important. Sleeping helps our brains process the day and also helps to retain information – particularly useful for revision!  

·        Set realistic goals. Meeting your need for achievement helps to support wellbeing and can be useful for morale. So, set yourself reasonable goals such as revising undisturbed for a certain time and celebrate the win. Remember to be flexible and kind to yourself if you don’t stick exactly to your plan. 

·        Be curious. Find out what parts of the exam are worth focusing on. Spending time learning something word-for-word can be time consuming, when knowing a little of that topic could be enough to get the marks you need.  

·        Be aware of comparisons. While it is good to connect with others, we all learn in different ways. Find learning strategies that work for you and focus on what you feel most comfortable with.  

·        Take time for yourself. Fit breaks into your revision timetable, particularly ones that involve movement as it can help you to burn off stress and re-focus.  

Louise added: “We all feel natural pressure to perform well in exams, but finding tips that work for you can be the difference between feeling stressed and overwhelmed or stretched and motivated. Finding the right strategies and balance of studying and time for you can help you to meet your physical and emotional needs.” 

To find out more about Suffolk Mind, visit www.suffolkmind.org.uk.