How to deal with exam stress

14 September 2020

A financial services student struggling with exam stress.

Once you’ve worked through the units in your financial services course, it will be time to take your exam. As long as you’ve read through all the relevant modules in full and revised them to ensure that you’re well versed in every section, you should have no problem with taking on and passing the test. However, if you’re struggling to deal with stress, you may be concerned that you could draw a blank as soon as you sit down to take the exam.

Although stress can affect people in different ways, it often involves feeling extremely worried, tense, irritable, negative and hopeless. For some, stress can lead to headaches, a loss of sleep, stomach pains, a reduced appetite and a sudden drop in interest towards things you usually enjoy.

As stress can have such a negative impact on your wellbeing and your chances of passing exams, it’s important to find ways to remain calm. In this blog, we look at methods of reducing stress before and during your financial services exam.

How to reduce stress before an exam

It’s important that you take steps to minimise stress from the beginning of your course.

Start by limiting how much of the course material you try to learn at a time, taking regular 20 minute breaks and planning something to look forward to after working on your course, such as watching a film, playing video games or meeting up with friends.

You could also consider creating a journal of notes from your course, making a list of areas you need to perfect or setting out everything you need to learn from your course and ticking it off as you go along.

When it comes to the time just before your exam, you can do other things to eliminate stress. For example, you could:

  • Exercise
  • make sure you have a good night’s sleep
  • drink herbal tea
  • cut down on caffeine, nicotine and alcohol
  • listen to music, the radio or a podcast
  • reduce time on social media platforms
  • have a bath
  • cook or bake
  • speak to friends and family about how you’re feeling
  • watch your favourite film or TV show (preferably a comedy or something lighthearted)
  • research the exam conditions to understand what you’ll be facing.

How to manage stress during exams

If you’ve been stressed about your exam for some time, the feeling of anxiousness may become unbearable when it actually comes to taking your exam. To combat these feelings during your exam, you could:

  • Take deep breaths
  • try to remain confident
  • pace yourself
  • focus on the exam; don’t get distracted by other things in the room
  • calm yourself by thinking of things that relax you
  • don’t overthink questions
  • take your time but be mindful of the clock
  • skip difficult questions and answer them at the end
  • create a mental strategy for how to approach each question
  • focus on each question and read several times before answering.

To an extent, exam stress affects us all, so you shouldn’t be embarrassed, frustrated or disappointed with yourself if you feel like you need support. It may not help to speak to other people who are also doing the same course as you in case their worries add to how stressed you feel.

However, you should consider speaking to your tutor, as they will be able to provide you with help and support with managing stress during the process of completing your course.

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