Free Download

Coping with exams


Handle exams with confidence. Advice and help for all students. Learn how to avoid exam stress and tension, and how to revise and prepare for examinations.



For those of us who are studying at school or college, the time of exams is very stressful and difficult. Some people find exam time so bad they become ill, because:

  • They are afraid of failing.
  • They are afraid of letting their parents and family down.
  • The hard work of study and revising* damages their health.

(*learning again from your notes and books - going back over what you have studied)

If exams are really making you ill, worried, or depressed, don't hide your feelings. Talk to someone about it. In some cultures, people think it is wrong to share their feelings and worries with others. But this is the only way to get help!

In Britain, there is a saying, 'A problem shared is a problem halved.' So you must find someone to talk to about these problems.

Maybe you can speak to a friend, or someone in your family. Or teachers at your place of study. Or a doctor. If one person doesn't help you, ask someone else.

If you feel very desperate, look at our suicide page, which also gives a link to BEFRIENDERS telephone numbers in different countries. They provide someone you can talk to, in confidence. Also look at our page on fear and worry.

Different people deal with exams in different ways:

Peter, 17,about to take exams in chemistry, biology and maths, says "different people deal with exams in different ways".

"There is so much pressure placed on you to pass exams. I feel I would be letting my parents and my brother down if I didn't do well." His answer to the problem is: "Stay on top of the work."

He recommends, "I don't just sit there and read. I try to condense (make short) my notes, by making new notes of the important points. Then I can read through it faster in the last few days."

Louise, 18, taking English Literature, media studies and theatre studies, says,

"I revise one subject for an hour, then move to another subject for an hour, and carry on like that for as long as I can."


Here are 10 top tips by educational psychologists:

    1. Get help: ask a teacher or tutor about how to revise, and exam skills - how to work when you are in an exam.
    2. Take short rests during your time of work and revision. If your mind is tired, it will not remember well.
    3. Plan your work: revise at times when you know you will work at your best.
    4. Stay healthy: get enough sleep, eat sensibly.
    5. Exercise: you need exercise to work well. Walk, run, play sport - whatever you enjoy.
    6. Be positive: stop thinking about the future and failing.
    7. Do your best: no-one can do more than this.
    8. Be alert: if you feel ill, talk to someone about your worries.
    9. But don't be too relaxed! Some stress over exams makes you work hard for them.
    10. Be sensible: if it upsets you to talk to your friends about an exam when it is finished, don't do it! In fact, don't even think about the exam you have finished. What is done is done. You cannot change what you have written!

To this advice, we would add:

If you are studying in the evening, don't go straight to bed afterwards. Your mind will still be 'going round and round' - thinking too much. Do something else, maybe walk or get exercise. Choose something that will relax you, and make you think of other things.

You do not need to face exams alone. God can help you. Search for Him. He can be a friend to you.