Exam Anxiety: Manage stress and boost your performance

It’s exam season. Let’s face it – no one really likes exam season. You’ve made it all the way through the year, put your best foot forward, and now you’re rewarded with a bunch of tests. Absolutely everybody has the right to feel a little bit anxious during exams. It’s entirely normal and sometimes even helps! The Mix are here to make sure you handle anxiety the right way to get the best out of your performance and enjoy the summer you deserve.

guy with head in hands looking very stressed

What is anxiety?

Anxiety is the annoying guest at the party that no one invited. They’ll take up all of your time and energy, tell you that you’re not good enough, make you second-guess yourself, then leave before returning later to do it all over again.

Anxiety can mean different things for different people. However, for most people it’s a strong feeling of worry or fear. These feelings are mainly based on future situations that haven’t happened yet (or may never happen). Many people with anxiety tend to overthink, which leads to more anxiety, which then leads to more overthinking which then leads to…you get the idea.

FACT: Everyone will experience anxiety in their lifetime, and it may seem like you’re going through this alone but you’re not. Trust us, you’re not. Especially during exam season.

(Psst, want to know more about anxiety? Read our article here).

Causes of exam anxiety

While it might be easier to talk about what DOESN’T cause exam anxiety, here are some possible causes behind it:

  • A fear of failure
  • Pressure from family or friends to meet their own expectations
  • Information overload
  • Balancing existing problems in your life
  • The exam itself (spending 2-3 hours in a pressurised atmosphere against the clock is not the ideal way to spend a Tuesday afternoon)

There are many other causes of exam anxiety and all of them are valid. The important thing is to recognise what may be causing your anxiety so you can try to manage it…

How to manage exam anxiety

Exam season can feel like a relentless storm. Luckily, there are some tips and tricks to help you ride it out…

  • Go easy on yourself

Most important of all – prioritise you. Exam season is stressful enough without the extra baggage of other stresses. Try and make some time to do the things you enjoy doing each day. This can be TV time, going for a walk in the local park, finally opening that book you’ve been gasping to read, hanging out with some friends (but not revising!) or just simply chilling. You do you.

  • Have a plan

They say ‘If you fail to prepare then you prepare to fail’. While this may be a little bit dramatic, it might be worth adding some more structure to your week to ensure you have enough time to revise, and also to reset.

When you know when you’re studying, you’re more likely to do it. And when you do it, you’ll feel better. Simple.

Having a calendar or a diary will help map out your week and remind you of when your exams are coming. This will help you feel more ready for them and less anxious.

Remember – you’re in control, not your anxiety.

  • Breathe

Exam season can bring a whole load of things to think about – from revision to exams to figuring out which pen will work best. By taking a moment to simply just breathe, we can add a sense of calmness and clarity to our lives. This will help make things more manageable and ensure you walk into that exam room with a fresh head, ready to slay.

And yes, it really is as simple as watching your breath come in…then go out.

  • Get physical

Getting regular exercise will not only help cool off some of the anxiety you might have built up, but it can also keep you focused on the mission at hand. There’s no need to run an ultra-marathon, a brisk walk in the park is more than enough to keep the anxiety demons at bay.

  • Look forward to summer

It doesn’t have to be a six-week all-inclusive Mediterranean cruise. Some loose plans to look forward to can be the motivation you need to soothe your anxiety and keep your focus. It could be the 12pm lie-ins, an uninterrupted movie marathon or that long-awaited festival you’ve been planning for ages.

Anxiety is a b*tch. However, the right tools can stop it taking over during exam season. By taking back control, you don’t need to just survive in your exams, but thrive in them too. Because who needs extra stress at this time of year?

Useful resources

Want to know more? The Mix have a bunch of articles to help get you through this year’s exam season, including:

Next Steps


Updated on 22-May-2024

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