Many students around the UK are currently doing their exams or have done them, so they will understand the stress that comes with exam season. Many students often feel overwhelmed, so it is essential to learn techniques to overcome this stress with a more appropriate relaxation response. Although stress can often be difficult to overcome, it is important to practice ways of easing stress, as it is a normal part of human life. 

What are ways of coping with exam stress?

Continuing hobbies and passions outside of school is important for maintaining good mental health during this season. Although, students often fall into the trap of over-revising, this often leads to deterioration of mental health, high levels of anxiety and forgetting during exams. Therefore, it is crucial to ensure exams are not interrupting activities, such as swimming, reading, or walking. These activities are all beneficial in stimulating the mind and can be useful in retaining information to the long-term memory, which would be useful for exams. Meditation techniques involve being aware of the present, instead of dwelling on the past or future. This allows students to maintain focus during exams and prevent distractions, which may affect performance. For example, several studies have shown that students who did a meditation exercise before the exam did significantly better compared to those who did not. Having confidence before the exam also prevents stress, as psychological evidence suggests that two emotions cannot exist at the same time, so relaxation counteracts stress. 

How do schools help?

Schools encourage students to ensure they are getting enough sleep and having a well-balanced and nutritional diet, as breakfast is essential on the day of an exam. Many schools also have meditation programmes, for example at Bentley Wood, we have Mental Health and Wellbeing Ambassadors, who promote mindfulness to students. Every week there are meditation classes for students from all year groups, run by trained teachers.

How do students cope during exam season? 

Nisreen Hassen, a sixth form student currently doing exams, says "exams are a stressful time and it is easy to be worried, especially in the moments before the exam, but I have learnt that relaxation and meditation before exams always makes me feel better". Another Sixth Form student, Mohadesa Sherali, states that "exams are the most stressful times, especially after the pandemic and its effects on learning and the transition to A Levels it is difficult to manage the workload. But I have learnt to deal with stress by not procrastinating the night before and using active recall methods, rather than passive revision. 

Overall, exams are a stressful experience for all students, but they can be useful in teaching students how to cope with the stress that they bring. Many students feel overwhelmed, and the word 'exam' often brings negative connotations, but it is necessary to overcome the stress, through meditation or relaxation practice to ensure that students can perform to the best of their ability.