How To Manage The Stress Of A Level Exams

Share article posted on June 30, 2017


Expert Tips On Managing A Level Exam Stress

The build up to any exam is nerve-wracking... It’s a time when, in those last couple of months of studying and revising, the pressure is heaped on, often not by others, but by yourself. And A level pressures, in particular, seem to be magnified. Your GCSEs have all been passed, when there were more exams to take, so why should taking fewer A level exams add more pressure and how can you manage it?

Recognise the signs

Getting stressed around exam time is not always a bad thing. The pressure can allow you to focus on getting over the hurdle of your next exam and to work hard achieving the right grades. But if you let it consume you, the stress and pressure of A levels can be damaging not only to your potential results, but to your health as well.

So if you’re suffering from one or more of these stress- and pressure-related symptoms, including tiredness, irritability, forgetfulness, anxiety, loss of appetite, aches and pains or insomnia, then it’s time to take some action. In the run up to your exams, suffering from any of these things can be bad news, so let’s look at some ways to combat them and give you more than a fighting chance to achieve A level greatness!

Find your comfort zone

If you’re feeling any of the symptoms listed above, then that’s the first step - you’ve recognised that you’re feeling the pressure and stress associated with A levels . That’s as good a time as any to tell yourself to step away from the books, study and revision and give yourself a break.

Sometimes, less is more. So rather than cramming and revising in every waking moment, organising yourself, having a detailed revision plan and giving yourself the necessary downtime can be far more productive.

Start with looking at your study routine. Everyone studies in different ways. Some prefer the relative calm, light surroundings of an early start in a library. Others are more productive starting later, holed up in their room with the curtains drawn. Find out where and when you’re most comfortable doing your revision and make it a priority to make any changes and stick to them.

Eat, sleep and exercise

Eating well is a vital element to giving your body — and your brain — the nutritious fuel it needs to cope with your workload. Though it’s tempting to opt for constant junk food, chocolate and snacks, that short term sugar high does you no favours. Try and eat as much healthy food, fresh fruit and veg as you can and avoid caffeine. And always aim to get a decent breakfast before your exam.

And if you feel like you’ve hit a wall with your revision, then a good dose of exercise could be the answer to pressing the reset button and de-stressing. Whether you’re more comfortable with a 20 minute walk or getting a 5k run under your belt, exercise will help reduce the tension (that adds to your body’s aches and pains) and release those feel-good chemicals into your brain.

Likewise, getting a good night’s sleep will benefit you greatly, so avoid cramming into the early hours. The more tired you are, the less likely you’ll retain key information. Set yourself a time target of when to finish your day’s study schedule and always make sure you have an extended period of no study to clear your mind before you go to bed.

Keep it in perspective

Building treats into your day is a great incentive to get the work done. Make sure you set aside time for these in your revision planner. If you’ve downloaded a series box set to watch, don’t binge all in one go. Build in an hour a day to treat yourself to watching an episode. Apart from the enjoyment of watching, it gives your brain a chance to focus on something completely different.

Above all try to keep things in perspective. When people offer well-intentioned platitudes, like “try not to worry about it” or “keep calm”, it can raise your pressure levels even further. And worrying about how well you’ll do in the exam will only add to it. As long as you have an effective plan, the determination to stick to it and succeed, there’s nothing standing in your way.

If you need further help with your A level revision, Westminster Tutors can help you with individually planned courses and one-to-one teaching. As an independent tutorial college based in London, our A level retake students in 2016 improved their results by an average of 1.7 grades. For more information on specific revision courses, call Westminster Tutors today on 020 7584 1288 or submit a request for more information.