How to Combat Deadline and Exam Stress Overload


Nobody likes deadlines, and especially not exams. They’re stressful, you seem to spend all your time revising for them and there’s never any space in the library. So with Easter deadlines coming up, and then a whole surge of exams at the end of the year, we have a few helpful points to guide you through the process. As someone who does a BSc I’ve done my fair share of exams over the years, so here are my top tips on how to beat that deadline stress when it all feels like it’s getting on top of you.

Before the Deadlines

  • Make sure you’re sleeping enough. Getting into a regular sleeping pattern can be hard – even with the best of intentions, if your flat are going to Jesters it’s hard to say no. Just make sure you’re getting around 8 hours of sleep every night, because you actually need sleep in order for your brain to remember what you’ve just revised. Sleep means memories are consolidated, so you’re more likely to recall them during the exam.
  • Be flexible with yourself and revision: everyone screws up on their revision plan. It happens. Don’t necessarily plan our every single second of your day around revising specific things, just tell yourself you’ll do a certain module during a certain timeframe. That way if something happens and you don’t manage to, you can just push it back to another time rather than feeling like you’ve messed up on your revision from day one.
  • Take breaks. You can’t just work solidly for 15 hours, try to take at least one or two small breaks an hour to get a drink, stretch or take a quick check on Instagram.
  • Give yourself enough time to start revising and working on essays – don’t just start the night before an exam! You might pass, and I know there are wild stories about people starting their dissertations the week they’re due, but it’s not worth risking.
  • Don’t compare the way you work best with how your friend does. Everyone works in different ways.

During Deadlines

  • Eat well. Don’t just live off of takeaways and instant noodles but actually cook, using vegetables and eating fruit. Your body will thank you.
  • If it’s all getting too much and causing you anxiety, try talking to your doctor about it to see if you can get referred to counselling, even university counselling will work wonders.
  • Recognise when you’re stressed and talk to other people. It’s super easy to feel like it’s the worst thing ever and you’re alone but it happens to everyone, especially that one person who claims they started revising the night before and they really don’t care about the exam.
  • Keep everything in perspective – these exams and essays may seem like the biggest thing in the world right now but in a few years when you have your degree and never have to do exams again, you’ll wonder why you were so worried over them. Even put your modules into perspective – in second year, each module is worth about 4% of your degree so if you don’t get a first in it, don’t panic – it’s not going to make you fail your degree!

After Deadlines

  • Treat yo’self – The most important point. Make like Parks and Recreation and spend a day looking after number one. Retail therapy, a day with friends, even just taking a day to yourself- it will help you unwind.
  • Don’t discuss answers after exams. It doesn’t matter what anyone else put for a question, you can’t change it now and who’s to say they’re right? All it’s going to do is make you worry unnecessarily.
  • Realise that you can only do your best. If you’ve revised, worked hard and done the best that you possibly can, that’s all that anyone can ask of you.

Third year PAIR student and head of events. Also The Edge's live editor and 2016-17 opinion editor. Fan of cats, gigs and a tea lover - find me rambling about politics and cats @_Carly_May on Twitter.

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