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Blog: Press Pause on Panic! Top tips for dealing with stress during exam period

by University of Liverpool Library on 2022-01-05T15:21:00+00:00 | Comments

Person studying at a desk

The KnowHow student team have created a series of blogs to help you prepare for the upcoming assessment period. This blog is by Noor, a first-year medical student here at the University of Liverpool.

Exams can be overwhelming for the majority of students, and at times it can feel difficult to cope. Luckily, a few simple steps and tricks can go a long way in making exam season less nerve-racking.

Plan, Plan, Plan

Creating a schedule and visualising what needs to get done always helps me feel less swamped with work. Make a task list of everything that needs to be done, prioritising the most important and urgent tasks. Starting with the hardest task eases the workload as you work through the list, sparking a feeling of accomplishment.

Overwhelmed? Write it out!

It’s easy to get wrapped up in all the expectations you have of yourself when exams are around the corner. Journaling anxious thoughts is a great way to express how you are feeling and have an internal conversation with yourself. This usually helps me calm down before any stressful exams.

Pace through the panic

Panicking is a very common emotion felt by University students before, during, or sometimes even after the exam. When I get stuck on a task, I like to follow three steps:

  • Close your eyes and take five deep breaths
  • Stretch for two minutes
  • Drink a glass of water

And now you’re ready to crack on with your work again!

Remaining calm and composed when stressed can help your mind gain some clarity, allowing you to thrive when you get back to the problem.

Use your Support System

Reaching out to your inner circle can make a big difference in improving your mental health and recharging your mind as you take a quick break from studying. Anything from going to go play some sports with friends, to a quick catch-up session with family, there’s a myriad of opportunities to help alleviate the exam pressure. My favourite activity to destress is going and playing squash with my friends, but any physical activity or hobby is an excellent idea to get your mind off studying (exercise releases endorphins, the ‘happy’ hormone that can help relieve stress!).

Student Services is also present to aid students who are feeling overwhelmed. The Wellbeing Team in the University is incredibly friendly and helpful, so it may be worth reaching out to them if you need someone to talk to.

KnowHow run sessions and have online tutorials relating to preparing for exams and managing your time effectively.

Caffeine: a little goes a long way

They say coffee is a student’s best friend. While caffeine may be useful in staying awake for those inevitable late-night cramming sessions, it can also be detrimental to the much needed eight hours of sleep recommended before an exam. Too much coffee can increase stress levels in the body, so swap out your Cuppa’ Joe for some decaffeinated tea once in a while to keep your mind alert and your stress levels intact.

Perspective is important

Sometimes exams don’t go as planned, we all have our ups and downs and that’s okay! Instead of continuing to stress about it, it is important to reflect on what went wrong, and what you can do to improve that next time. When I feel upset over an exam, I try to take it as an opportunity to write out a reflection on why I believe it went badly, and how I can change that next time. Additionally, I believe it’s important to write an optimistic note, reminding yourself that one exam doesn’t define you, and is not the end of the world in the grand scheme of life.

And that’s it! Taking exam seasons in your stride, one step at a time, can make all the difference when it comes to managing your nerves and staying on top of the workload. Once your exams are done, take it easy! Forget about what’s been done, and go have some fun with friends, enjoy a hobby, or whatever it is that helps you relax.

Good luck!

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