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Get Help On: Exam Stress

  • Pressure to do well in a test can create a sense of anxiety or tension
  • Usually associated with school exams but these feelings can come up in other scenarios like taking your drivers test or prepping for an interview


Like it or not, at some point in our lives, we have to take exams. At school, college, uni, even learning to drive – there’s no escaping them.

For some people it’s no big deal, they even get off on it, but for most of us, exams are stressful.

But stress isn’t all bad. It’s the thing that gives us a rush of adrenaline to make us bother to sit down and study. Without it, we’d all just lie in bed watching the TV rather than ploughing through a mountain of books. Stress helps to motivate us and raises our game when we’re faced with a challenge. But it’s a fine line – too much stress does the opposite and can cause us to get anxious and tense. It means we start panicking and can’t stay focused.

What does being stressed about an exam feel like?

You can feel tired, angry, frustrated and down, or like there is no hope for success. 

Students that call CALM say that exam problems are their most common cause of anxiety. So if you are feeling stressed out about exams, relax, you can bet that most of the other people around you are feeling the same.

Everyone goes on about success, and it can seem that your whole future is going to be determined in a couple of hours. But we know there is so much more to life than those few hours. If you feel like you or someone you know needs help dealing with exam stress you can find the CALM helpline here.

Dealing with exam stress

Ease the anxiety

  • Give yourself a break – you can only absorb information for so long before it becomes confusing. You’re much more likely to remember stuff if you cut in plenty of breaks, even if it’s just making a cup of tea.
  • Try not to eat too much junk food or drink too much alcohol (or none if you can), but do plan a big night out when the exams have finished.
  • Stress messes with people’s sleep patterns. Take time to relax before going to bed, that way, when you do hit the sack, you’ll fall asleep, rather than lie there worrying about all the work you’ve got to do.
  • Keep yourself busy. When you’re not studying, do things you enjoy. Treat yourself.
  • And don’t forget: failing isn’t the end of the world. It’s a pain, it’s frustrating, you might even get aggro from your parents. But at the end of the day, it’s only an exam. And there are always re-sits.

Get it off your chest

Ok, so no one can sit the exams for you, but have a chat to family, friends, student advice centres or teachers or lecturers. It helps to get your worries off your chest and you’re bound to find someone who can relate to what you’re feeling. No matter how much the idea of failing an exam is getting on top of you, don’t sit down and worry on your own.

If you want to talk to someone on the quiet, the CALM helpline is here to talk through whatever is on your mind.

Who can help with exam stress?

There are lots of places you can go for advice and help if you are struggling with the pressure of exams. 

The CALM helpline is open everyday 5pm-midnight, no matter what. 

YoungMinds offer a free and anonymous text service 24/7 for young people.


5pm-midnight | free | confidential | Anonymous


Worried about someone? Find information and advice for someone you care about here.