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Tips for coping with exams

Coping with exams can be a challenging and stressful time for all students. As students enter their exam period including year 12 WAIS exams, we are sharing some tips to help them manage the stress and perform their best.

Time management:

Create a study schedule that allocates enough time for each subject and topic. Stick to your schedule as closely as possible to ensure you cover all the material.

Break down subjects:

Divide your subjects into manageable chunks. Focus on one subject or topic at a time to avoid feeling overwhelmed. Begin with subjects that you feel comfortable in to create action which will lead to motivation

Practice past papers:

Past exam papers are valuable resources. Work through them to get a sense of the types of questions that might be asked and to practice your exam technique.

Healthy lifestyle:

Prioritize sleep, nutrition, and exercise. A well-rested and healthy body and mind perform better under stress.

Stress management:

When feeling overwhelmed, name the feeling to tame it. Take a break and complete some deep breathing, meditation, or mindfulness to reduce the feeling.

Stay positive:

Maintain a positive attitude. Check in with your thinking to see what you are saying to yourself or about what you are doing. When we feel stressed we can be influenced by “black and white thinking” for example, “I am going to fail”.  Notice this and try to reframe to a balanced thought, for example, “I can try my best”.

Get perspective:

Remember, while each exam and your ATAR score might seem like the be all and end all at the moment, there are many different and viable pathways to get where you want to go. To help get perspective you can ask yourself  “will this matter in a month from now, a year from now, 5-years from now?” or “will I remember this in a year or 5-years from now?”. 

Study groups:

Form or join study groups with classmates. Discussing and teaching each other can reinforce your understanding of the material.

Use online resources:

Explore online resources like educational websites, YouTube tutorials, and educational apps to supplement your learning.

Seek help when needed:

Don’t hesitate to ask teachers, tutors, or classmates for help if you’re struggling with a particular topic or subject.

Practice regularly:

Regular revision is key. Don’t cram all your studying into the last few weeks. Spread it out over time to retain information better.

Stay organized:

Keep all your study materials organized, including notes, textbooks, and stationery. An organized study environment can help you focus.

Set realistic goals:

Set achievable goals for your study sessions. Celebrate your accomplishments, no matter how small.

Stay connected:

Make sure to schedule in time to spend with people you enjoy being around. Spending time with people we care about can help us de-stress and unwind.

Take breaks:

Don’t study for extended periods without breaks. Short, regular breaks can help you stay focused and prevent burnout.

Exam day preparation:

On the day of the exam, make sure you have all the necessary materials, arrive early, and stay calm. Review key points but avoid trying to cram at the last minute.

Post-exam relaxation:

After each exam, take some time to relax and unwind. Don’t dwell on what you could have done differently; focus on the next exam or your well-deserved break.

Reach out for support:

Talk to your friends and family about your stress and concerns. They can offer emotional support and understanding during this challenging time.

Plan for breaks:

After your exams, take a well-deserved break to recharge. Whether it’s a short vacation, hobbies, or simply relaxation, it’s important to reward yourself for your hard work.

Remember that exams are just one part of your education journey, and while they are important, they do not define your worth or future success. Keep things in perspective, stay focused, and do your best. Good luck!

Written by Rebecca Jamieson, Clinical Team Leader/Senior Clinical Psychologist

More information

If you’re concerned your upcoming exams, would like to learn more about coping with exam stress, or want to book an appointment with Rebecca Jamieson or another one of our experienced clinical psychologists, contact our friendly client team by calling 6143 4499 or email via our contact page.


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