5 Tips for Managing Exam Anxiety for Young People | Compass Schools

Exam Anxiety Management for Young People

If you (or your young person) are doing exams at the moment, you’ll know how stressful and overwhelming this period can be.
Many people suffer from anxiety throughout their exam period, worried that they’re not getting enough revision done, or that they may not achieve the grades they want.
To help, we’ve put together some advice on managing exam anxiety for young people. These tips will hopefully help in structuring revision and time effectively, keeping stress to a minimum!

What Causes Exam Anxiety?

Managing exam anxiety can be difficult, particularly when it’s hard to pinpoint what the cause of the stress is.
A big part of managing exam anxiety is understanding what might be causing it. According to Mind, the UK charity, exam stress can be caused by a variety of different factors. These include:
• Feeling like you haven’t prepared enough for your exams, like leaving your revision too late.
• Worrying about how you’ll perform in your exams, and what kind of questions might be in there.
• Worrying about what kind of grade you will get, and how this will affect your future.
• Comparing yourself to others and worrying you won’t get the same results as your friends.
• Pressure from others, like teachers, parents, or carers.
• Coping with life changes, like moving schools or personal issues.
These are just some of the reasons that an individual might be experiencing exam anxiety. You might also feel stressed for different reasons that aren’t listed above.
Remember, we’re all different, and it’s okay to be stressed about your exams – for whatever reason.
Everyone is different so how you deal with exam anxiety will differ from your friends.

1. Plan Your Revision

One of the best ways to manage exam anxiety is by planning revision properly.
Make sure you set aside plenty of time for revision before your exam. This will give you plenty of time to prepare.
Sort through your notes and make sure you’re focusing on the most essential material. Which topics are most relevant to your exam? What kind of questions do you think you might be asked? There are plenty of different resources online that will help you decide which topics to focus on.
We recommend creating a revision planner. Deciding what subjects you will focus on which days will help you make the most of your time. This article from BBC Bitesize has some great tips on creating a planner for your revision.

2. Take Plenty of Breaks

You might feel like you need to sit for hours at a time to make the most of your revision. How else will you cram everything in?
Surprisingly, this form of studying isn’t the most efficient use of your time. Study habits that involve spending hours concentrating on one subject don’t promote long-term learning. In fact, this style of studying can actually increase stress levels and make it harder to remember important information.
That’s why it’s essential that you make sure you’re giving yourself plenty of breaks! Take some time away from your computer screen or go on a walk.
We recommend using the pomodoro technique. This is where you study for 25 minutes and rest for 10 minutes, repeating this 4 or 5 times. This technique helps with staying focused, and mentally refreshed.

3. Set Realistic Goals

Perfection is not achievable, so make sure you’re not trying to do too much at once. Otherwise, you may risk burnout!
Burnout can make people feel ill and drained as a result of constant stress. In 2018, a poll from YouGov revealed that 74% of people had felt so stressed before that they had been overwhelmed or unable to cope. When it comes to exam season, burnout is something you definitely want to avoid, which is why it’s important to manage your workload.
Try to set yourself small, realistic, and achievable goals each day. This will help you organise your time, and help you feel better about what you’ve accomplished. Make a list of your small goals, from most to least important, and tick them off as you go!

Boy wearing a yellow shirt looking confused. Yellow sticky notes are stuck around his face with school subjects written on them.

4. Sleep, Eat and Drink

You can study as much as you want, but if you’re not taking proper care of your body, you won’t be able to use your newfound knowledge very well. A mistake people often make when it comes to exam season is studying throughout the night, or skipping meals or eating poorly.

Studying requires a lot of brain power and concentration, which can use a lot of energy. Food, drink and sleep habits can have a considerable impact on your bodily functions. Certain foods are better for brain function, such as foods that are rich in protein and vitamins. Sleep also helps the learning process, helping you to better retain information.
Make sure you’re eating well and regularly and drinking plenty of water to fuel yourself throughout your exams. Also make sure you’re getting plenty of sleep, as rest is essential for the brain!

5. Find Some Perspective

With so much pressure surrounding exam season, it’s easy to lose perspective. Not doing as well as you would like to might feel like the end of the world right now.
Remember, it’s perfectly normal to be worried about the future. Allow yourself to feel your feelings. It’s important that you remind yourself you are more than your grades! Your grades should not and do not determine your self-worth.
These concerns are always better kept out than in; try sharing them with a trusted adult or writing them down on some paper. You can also get support online from Young Minds UK if you want someone else to talk to.