How to Lessen Your Exam Stress

Find out How to Lessen Your Exam Stress here. Use practical techniques like decluttering your space, using time management skills and journaling to manage your exam anxiety.

Does the thought of exams leave you feeling shaky and sweaty? Don’t waste another minute with your hands in your head, moaning and groaning about finals week. Find out how to lessen your exam stress right here. Break the stigma and work towards the results you deserve. 

Tips to Beat Exam Stress 

This is an important moment in your life. Often, the results you receive in your exams can be a determining factor for your future choices. Listed below are some practical tips that will help with exam stress. 

Clear Your Room and Desk

Clutter can contribute negatively to your anxiety. Dedicate a day to clearing out your space, especially your room and desk. These are the spaces you’ll spend most of your time. Make sure it is calm, quiet and tidy. 

Take a Social Media Break

If some of your exam stress is attached to your pressure to compete with others, then being on social media may not be the smartest choice. Give yourself a social media break. Spend your free time reading for fun or painting. 

Get Some Sunlight Everyday

Research has shown that exposure to sunlight increases your serotonin levels. Make sure you spend at least 15-20 minutes getting some sunlight everyday. Use this time to meditate, write affirmations in a notebook or do some physical activity. 

Learn and Apply Time Management Tips

The odds are if you’re feeling unusually stressed about your exams, it’s because you feel underprepared. The best way to beat this is to create a study schedule and apply some time management tips to your revision strategy. 


Write down everything you are worried about on a page. Doing this will centre yourself and allow you to get rid of all those internal feelings. Sometimes seeing your thoughts on paper will allow you to gain perspective. 

Why are Exams so Stressful? 

Exam stress is not all negative. In fact, it shows you care. You’re feeling stressed during this time because you want to do well and succeed. Exams are stressful because there’s an element of surprise to them. You can curb this uncertainty by studying hard and making sure you’re well prepared for any curveball. 

Exam Stress Symptoms 

How do you know if you have exam stress and how do you know when it is considered a problem? The symptoms below are some common feelings associated with exam stress. Use this as a checklist to identify if you need help. 

  • Losing touch with friends, family and activities you used to enjoy. 
  • Feeling moody, low or overwhelmed 
  • A loss of appetite 
  • Disruption of your sleeping patterns 
  • Tense muscles or headaches 
  • Racing heartbeat, feeling sick or having butterflies in your stomach.
  • Feeling unmotivated to study

You shouldn’t let your anxiety get out of control. These negative feelings can influence your ability to reach your study goals

Causes of Exam Stress

Avoiding exam stress is much easier when you know what the causes are. If you know that you’re someone who struggles with pressure, then avoid the following things in the lead up to exam week. 

Last Minute Preparation

If you leave your revision to the day before, chances are you will feel overwhelmed. Avoid this by creating a study schedule and studying weeks in advance.  

High Expectations

If you’re setting unrealistic expectations, then your anxiety will skyrocket. Instead, dedicate an hour or two to listing some attainable goals. 

Pressure from Teachers and Parents

It will be worthwhile to have a conversation with your loved ones about the pressure you’re feeling from them. Communicate which ways you’d like their support during this time. 

Self-induced Pressure

Students often feel that if they don’t get good grades, that they won’t be worthy or won’t be liked. Be aware of your self talk and use positive affirmations whenever you feel this way. 

Sole BreadWinner 

There are many students who have family responsibilities. This can take a toll. Remind yourself that doing well will not only positively affect you, but also your family. Use this as motivation. 

Where to get Support 

If our tips on how to lessen your exam stress is not enough, you can always seek out professional help. There are many free resources available in South Africa. Don’t allow the stigma on mental health to stop you from getting the assistance you need. 

Cipla Mental Health Helpline 

Call: 0008 456 789


Life Line/ National Counselling Line

Call: 0861 322 322

Whatsapp: 065 989 9238



Call: 011 234 4837


Higher Healthy 24-Hour Student and Staff Helpline 

Call the toll free Helpline: 0800 36 36 36

SMS: 43336

Take charge of your life and kick exam stress where it hurts most! Study hard and do your best. 

Beat Exam Stress and Build Your Future!

Thinking about your future might just be a good distraction from all the stress you’re feeling. Why not have a look at our courses? Speak to one of our course consultants today: 

  • Call us on 0800 39 00 27 – it’s free
  • Or fill out a contact form for a call back 
Last Updated: September 2, 2021


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Andrea Petersen
Andrea Petersen
I am dedicated to creating engaging online content. I enjoy reading, writing and popular culture. House Ravenclaw. View my LinkedIn