Accessibility tools

Exam stress

Exam stress is not unique – everybody suffers from it! Stress may cause you to feel irritable, low and negative. You may have trouble sleeping, you may go off eating or you may want to “comfort eat”. Headaches and stomach pains can also be stress-related. 

How to beat it 


Having someone to talk to about your work can help. Support from a parent, tutor or other adult can help you talk about your worries and keep things in perspective. 

Eat well

During the exam period it is important that you eat well. Always eat breakfast and do not skip lunch. Going into an exam with an empty stomach will affect your concentration. But, avoid a big meal just before your exam as it can make you feel sleepy.

  • Fruits and proteins are good source of energy
  • Avoid too many high sugar, high caffeinated drinks
  • If possible carry a water bottle to the exam hall to rehydrate


Good sleep will improve thinking and concentration. You need between 8 and 10 hours sleep a night. Stop studying, using a computer, playing electronic games or watching TV at least half an hour before bed. Cramming all night before an exam is a bad idea. 


It is a proven that regular exercise reduces stress. Even a brisk walk to school before your exam will help you to feel more relaxed. 

Time Out

It’s really important that you take time out to relax. Try to build time off into your revision timetable and take regular breaks to do something you enjoy. Enjoy your time off, but you need to get enough sleep so avoid late nights! 

Organise and Prepare

Make sure you have all the things you need for the exam: your stationery, your identity badge, your watch, water bottle etc. Last-minute searching for things can stress your mind further and create panic during the exam. For the hour or so before your exam, take time out to relax. Don’t stress yourself by trying to cram more information to your already worked-up brain! Have a drink, eat a light snack and take some deep breaths. 


Once the exam is over try not to worry about the results or waste time discussing what your friends have written. Go and do something you enjoy and then plan how you can best prepare for your next exam.

Advice for Parents and Carers 

Be flexible

Don’t worry if normal family routines are disrupted, household jobs are left undone or bedrooms are not tidied. Remember, exams don’t last forever! 

Help them to study

Making sure your child has somewhere comfortable to study. Help them draw up a revision schedule or ask the school for one. 

Discuss their nerves

Remind your child that feeling nervous is normal. Being reminded of what they do know and the time they have put into study can help them feel more confident.

Encourage exercise

Make sure your kids are active. Exercise can help boost energy levels, clear the mind and relieve stress. Walking, cycling, swimming, football and dancing are all effective. 

Don’t add to the pressure

Childline reported that many children who contact them feel that the greatest pressure at exam time comes from their family. Keep things in perspective, listen to them, give support and avoid criticism. Before they go in for a test or exam, be reassuring and positive. Make sure they know that failing isn’t the end of the world. After each exam, encourage your child to talk it through with you then move on and focus on the next test, rather than dwelling on things that can’t be changed. 

Make time for treats

Small treats like giving them their favourite food after an exam can be a real encouragement to them. Don’t use rewards as bribes, this just adds to the pressure. 


You being stressed will not help your child so relax and keep things in perspective!