Managing Exam Stress

Exam Stress

You’ve been working hard all year to achieve your NCEA, and with exams just around the corner you might be getting a bit anxious about achieving the results you want.

Sometimes a little pressure can help you perform well, but generally speaking, the better you prepare for exams the better you will feel. The secret is to manage stress.

Your school is the first place to look for support and information. There are also lots of resources online that offer useful advice and help you plan what you need to do before and during exams, and it is always good just to talk to someone.

It’s important that you don’t continue to worry about an exam after it is over. Instead, focus on getting prepared for your remaining exams.

If you’re finding things are getting on top of you here’s a quick summary of how to prepare for your exams and some useful resources. More information can be found on The Lowdown website.

Make a plan

  • Work out how you study most effectively (when, where and how). 
  • Plan a schedule - set study periods of 30-50 minutes followed by a 15-minute break.  At the weekend you can repeat this schedule with a specific learning goal through the day.

While you're studying

  • Set up an organised area to study.
  • Switch your phone to flight mode and use it only during breaks.
  • Mix it up - write rather than type notes or say them aloud and play them back.
  • Work with classmates in study groups or reviewing work to help each other.

You can find other useful study tips on the Massey University website.

And here are some apps to help you get organised and feel good, including a study diary and some breathing, mindfulness and sleep techniques.

Stay healthy

  • As the saying goes, healthy body, healthy mind – so eat well.
  • Build in time for relaxation and fun, fresh air and physical activity. 
  • Get enough sleep.
  • Talk to your classmates and family about how they manage stress.

On the day

  • Check the time and location of the exam, and get there early after a good night’s sleep and a good breakfast or lunch.
  • Do a light revision.
  • Visualise being calm, do some deep breathing and avoid anyone who could stress you.
  • Find your seat and get comfy.
  • And remember if you think things didn’t go as well as you expected, talk to someone who can help you. Your teachers can support you to find ways to get to your goals.

How can parents help?

Parents know how it feels to be overloaded. They can help by watching for signs of overload, and with practical help to get students organised and focused, keeping them healthy, helping them get to exams and showing them love.

Here are some tips for parents and students to work together to manage exam stress.

Sometimes stress results in losing focus, so here are some ways to help students back on track.

Where to find support

If you do need someone to talk to, you might want to start with your school, or here are some other options:

Need to Talk? - Call or text 1737

What's Up - 0800 WHATS UP (0800 942 8787)

Lifeline - 0800 543 354 or (09) 5222 999 within Auckland

Youthline - 0800 376 633, text 234, email [email protected] or online chat

Samaritans - 0800 726 666

The Lowdown - Free text 5626