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Dealing with exam stress

If you or your child are about to go through exams, you won’t need telling that you’ve got a stressful time ahead. If university places are at stake, these are the last exams before the start of of the new higher education term in September – so having to retake any modules could result in lost or deferred places at your university of choice.

Things aren’t quite as pressured as they used to be, when A-level students would take nearly all the exams of their two-year courses in a four-week period. But it can still be tough going. We’ve put together some top tips for getting through a difficult time!

  • Plan. When exams are bearing down on you, it can all seem a bit overwhelming. Make things easier by creating a clear plan that covers the whole exam period, including days for exams, revision and rest.
  • Structure your time. Human beings like routine, and you’ll feel much more in control – and prepare for exams more effectively – if you do things according to a reasonably regular timetable. Get up and go to bed at roughly the same times every weekday, and have a set pattern of work for each day.
  • Get enough sleep. This really is crucial – if you’re not adequately rested, you’ll feel more stressed out and you brain won’t work at its best. Get a good night’s sleep every night, ideally by going to bed in good time and getting up fairly early. At ages 16 to 18 you should still be aiming for eight or nine hours’ sleep. If you’ve planned properly, you shouldn’t have to “burn the midnight oil” to catch up on your revision.
  • Eat and drink properly and get some exercise. Like sleeping properly, this is just part of feeling good. Your mental performance and stress levels are tied to how well you’ve been looking after yourself physically, so make sure you get plenty of exercise in the fresh air and you’re eating healthily. It’s crucial to make sure you’re drinking enough fluid – you won’t work effectively if you’re dehydrated.
  • Remember to relax. You’ve got to work hard, but if you’re over-conscientious you might be your own worst enemy. Give your body and your brain a break by factoring in rest periods, especially at weekends. If you’re a social animal, don’t deprive yourself of a night out – but don’t hit the town so hard you take three days to recover. Save that until after exams are over!
  • Don’t be in the dark. You’re most like to get stressed out about things you don’t know or you feel are beyond your control. If you’re not sure about any aspect of your exams, don’t suffer in silence: check with friends, or, better still, with your teachers. They want you to do well, and they won’t mind explaining anything you don’t understand.
  • Focus. Concentrating on something is a great way to reduce stress, which is a good thing during exam time, because you’ve to plenty to concentrate on. Set aside good chunks of time for revision, get your head into your books and notes, and get on with it!

If you think that you (or your child) need any last minute help with tricky subject areas, don’t hesitate to get in touch with 121 Home Tutors. If you’re in the Manchester area we can easily find a tutor to help you out with a few booster sessions before and during the exam season. You might also like to check out our revision tips!

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