Dealing With Exam Stress

Exam season is approaching, and with it is exam stress. Some of us are more affected by it than others, but if you choose to pursue a career in medicine, dentistry or veterinary medicine exams are something you’re going to have to face time and time again. Don’t let pressure and stress get on top of you, find out how you best learn things and keep calm. Aside from the reminder to actually do some studying, here are a few ways to tackle exam stress;

  • Make sure you’re well prepared. Not just regarding what you need to know for the exam but also things like the format of the exam, how long it lasts and where you can pick up marks. See if you can get copies of past exam papers and the mark scheme.
  • Plan your revision. We all know this one, schedule out what you need to do and how long you have to do it.
  • Take regular breaks. Our concentration only lasts properly for up to about 45 minutes. Working for hours on end reduces the amount of information you’re actually going to take in. Have a 5 minute break and go back to it.
  • Eat, drink, exercise. Red Bull, pizza and cake isn’t going to help you no matter how much it makes you feel better about taking the exams. Same goes for alcohol, other sources of caffeine and cigarettes. Eat vegetables, carbs and protein to keep your blood sugar levels constant and help you sleep at night. Drink lots of water and do some exercise to reduce any physical tension. You’ll feel generally healthier and more ready for studying.
  • Get some sleep. Don’t cut into your sleep to revise, stick to a routine to keep your sleep-wake cycle constant. If you really can’t sleep because of stress don’t panic too much, you’ll nod off eventually and adrenaline will most likely get you through the exam okay anyway.
  • Reward yourself. If you get through your revision have a treat, after all your exams are over plan something to celebrate. If you need constant rewards to focus try putting a sweet on your book at the end of each section you need to revise, even if it’s every paragraph. When you’ve covered it, made notes and are sure you’ll remember it you’ll get a little treat. Don’t eat too many though because that’ll ruin the part where you’re supposed to eat healthily.

Students on our BSc (Hons) Biomedical Science graduate in 2 years rather than 3, that’s a whole year less of exams to deal with!

Exams can be important, but they’re not more important than being in good health. If you don’t do as well as you’d like it’s not the end of the world, take a deep breath and move on or do it again. Good luck!