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As well as the Euro 16 and referendum debates, we are currently in the grips of the exam season which for many is a time of anxiety and stress.

Whether it is GCSEs, A Levels, degrees or PHDs, exams are hard work and can be daunting and even those with nerves of steel can have the odd wobble.

From excessive worry and the fear of failure, to peer pressure and time running out, the mind can run away with itself and make everything ten times worse than it is.

There is no doubt that exam stress can take over and ultimately scupper chances of success. This isn’t due to a lack of preparation, hard work or dedication but simply because fear can be paralysing and impact performance.

We aren’t saying this time will be plain sailing, but there are things you can do to make the next few weeks just that little bit easier.

Believe in yourself
If you’ve worked hard and have prepared, there is no real reason to worry. No one, other than yourself maybe, says you have to be perfect. Give your things your best shot, know you are working to your full potential and be positive about your achievements.

Plan your time
If you have too much to do in too little time, you will feel anxious. Forget last minute cramming, the key to being the best you can, when it comes to exams, is to plan your time properly.

Create a timetable that includes all areas you need to work on as well as regular breaks and leisure time.

Write notes on cards and stick them on the fridge, bathroom door and on your mirror.

If you have a part time job or other commitments, try to change your schedule to fit with your revision so you don’t get overwhelmed.

By putting these measures in place, it will be easier for you to retain information in a relaxed way, keep on track and gain confidence whilst avoiding burnout and panic.

Don’t panic
Easy to say we know, but if you get stuck or don’t understand something, ask for help. Getting stressed won’t help the situation, it will probably simply make it worse. Address the problem talking to your teachers or classmates and go back to it once you feel you have a handle on the issue.

Meditation, yoga and even a daily gratitude journal can all help keep your grounded and focussed on the bigger picture.

Keep healthy
Whilst reaching for junk food and staying up late might seem the only way to get thought your schedule, what you really need to do is keep fit and healthy.

  • Exercise is really important. Go for a run, swim or play tennis with a friend but try not to talk about your exams.
  • Eat a good, well balanced diet that is rich in fresh fruit and vegetables plus good protiens and fats.
  • It is also vital to keep hydrated as this will keep your brain ticking over. Go for at least eight glasses of water a day and keep a bottle on your table when you are in an exam.
  • Go easy on tea, coffee and fizzy drinks. Yes they might give you boost to start with but too much caffeine can set you on edge and stop you from relaxing and sleeping.
  • Working into the early hours, or pulling and ‘all-nighter’, might be tempting, but don’t do it. You need to a decent night’s sleep so you wake refreshed and ready to work again or face and exam.
  • Look after your skin and make sure you cleanse, tone and moisturise morning and evening.

One the day
When you have exams scheduled, make sure you arrive early as the last thing you want to do is be late and risk not being able to take the paper or flapping. Be fully prepared, take deep breaths, don’t get involved in revision discussions.

During each exam keep calm, read the questions once to start with and then begin to answer them. If you start to panic, sit back for a moment and take control of your of breathing. Take deep breathes in and out through the nose, counting to five each way and then relax. Start the exam again when you feel better, answer what you can and keep as calm as possible.

Post-exam
Once an exam is over don’t spend time going over the questions and answers in your head. Try not to discuss it too much with friends and resist looking at online forums. It’s done and dusted, you did your best so move on. Whether it is watching a film, going out for a coffee or having a win, always treat yourself after an exam and smile – you did it!

At the end of the day, exams can be taken again, so do your best and we think you will surprise yourself.

Good luck.