Five ways to beat exam nerves

There’s no getting away from it. Sitting your exams can be a stressful experience. However, there are strategies you can employ which will help you cope. We asked you for your top tips, and here are some of the best.


1. Think positive

A positive mindset can do wonders for your confidence in the exam hall. 

To best achieve this, make sure you have done the right kind of studying – this doesn’t mean just reading notes all day and night; you must also practise past exam questions. If you are unable to complete any part of a question when answering a past exam, don’t just ignore it – phone a friend, or better still, contact your tutor (if you have one). Remember that if you find a question difficult, it’s likely that other candidates will too.

Fifteen minutes before the start of the exam, instead of spending time worrying about the next few hours and what the exam questions will be about, get your brain warmed up. Go over a few of the basics in your mind – get yourself tuned into the subject.

2. Relax

Many students will be familiar with that shaky, nauseous feeling you can sometimes get as you enter the exam hall. But there are ways you can ease these feelings. Try to breathe more slowly and deeply, and say to yourself: ‘Take it easy, just relax.’ You’ll find the anxiety often passes quite quickly and you can concentrate on the questions.

3. Be prepared

The best route to confidence in the exam hall is knowing you’ve prepared as much as you can. Make sure you have revised the whole syllabus for the exam you are taking and never question spot. This way you will feel confident enough to talk about any topic. Know your way around the syllabus.

4. Keep it healthy

There are certain types of food and drink that will help you think clearly during your exam. Drinking water before you go helps, but don’t drink too much otherwise you’ll be going to the toilet all the time. Keep a small bottle of water on your desk to keep yourself hydrated as the exam progresses. Make sure you have something to eat at least an hour before the exam starts so you don’t get disturbed by hunger pangs. But be careful not to eat too much as this can make you sleepy. 

5. Keep busy

Before your exam, worrying and thinking too much about what is ahead of you can sometimes make your anxiety worse. An ideal way to combat this is to take your mind off it by finding something to do. Take a walk in the park, or try drawing or painting to reduce stress and relax your mind. Half an hour of physical exercise is also another way to release tension. Lying down and listening to music can also be a great way to keep your mind off the exams.