This page contains guidance on managing exam stress. Assessment deadlines and exams can be highly stressful for some, especially when you feel behind or that you are juggling too many at once. You may feel irritable, unable to sleep and/or unable to concentrate. This in turn has further impact on your ability to study. If you would like to discuss your individual circumstances or any of the information below, then contact us for an appointment. 


Am I stressed?

It’s important to acknowledge that it is normal to feel under pressure or stressed during the assessment season. For some the stress becomes unmanageable and recognising this in yourself, or others, may not be as easy as you think.

Some temporary effects of stress include: lack of concentration, inability to sleep, difficulty in processing information and irritability. Stress suppresses your immune system so you're more likely to catch a cold or feel under the weather, which doesn't help your performance in exams. In high levels  or if the stress continues for a lengthy period of time, stress can lead to mental health problems e.g. panic attacks, depression or anxiety.  It’s important to act as soon as possible if you are feeling stressed.

The NHS Choices website has some very useful information so do check this out too.


How can I reduce my stress levels?

Avoid turning to alcohol or drugs to suppress the way you feel. Eating a healthy diet and getting some exercise can make a world of difference. Giving yourself some time out away from your study is important. We all need a break once in a while. You may then find that when you go back to study your mind is clearer and refreshed.

Talk to people. This could be people on your course, housemates, family, a SUBU Advice Worker or a friendly face in Chaplaincy or the Wellbeing Service. You’re not alone.

Take care of yourself. Ensure you have a balanced diet and at least one hot meal a day. The NHS Choices Eat Well Guide is an interactive tool to help you eat well. Try and get at least 6 hours sleep a night. Having a bath or reading a book (not course related) before bed can help you switch off. The NHS Choices website has some excellent advice and tips.

Taking a walk, going for a jog or hitting the gym for 20 mins can help you manage the pressures of student life. SportBU and SUBU Clubs and Societies have lots of things to offer. Having a break away from your desk to do hobbies is also beneficial.

Organisation can be the key to success. When completing a revision plan/diary block in your breaks first and put your study around the breaks. Plan in time to go for a walk, do your food shop and be with friends. You’re allowed a life!

Mind provides advice and support to empower anyone experiencing a mental health problem. They also campaign to improve services, raise awareness and promote understanding. Mind has a designated page on their website for students which give tips for everyday living. Ensure you check this out.


Manage your stress on exam day

  • Have breakfast
  • Remember anxiety and nerves are completely normal
  • Try and get a good night’s sleep beforehand
  • Read the questions slowly and highlight key words
  • Make sure you answer all the questions
  • If you find yourself going blank, take a few moments to breathe calmly and relax, focus on that and then go back to the exam.


Revision Tips

  • Check the Academic Skills tab on MyBU. There are loads of tips, techniques and workshops for revision and exams.
  • Use past papers where you can to make sure you’re prepared, and plan the questions you might get!
  • Start your revision earlier! Make a time table for what you’re going to do when! Make a daily planner showing what times you’re working, studying and when you’ve got leisure time!!
  • Try and avoid social media and procrastination – use an app like ‘Self control’ on Mac or ‘StayFocusd’ for Chrome to block certain time-wasting sites for a selected amount of time
  • Simple techniques like planning for a reward when a piece of work has been achieved may help. Start with some of the topics you find easier to establish a routine
  • If you don’t understand something – go and ask your lecturers or help from course mates who are all going through the same things as you!


Don’t forget to check out the BU website for further advice and top tips. .


If you feel that your exam stress is affecting your health or your relationships are suffering, it would be beneficial to seek some help. You can talk to the Chaplaincy (01202 965383) or contact the Wellbeing Service (01202 965020) both of which are based in Talbot House. If these services are closed you may wish to access support via Mind (Dial: 0300 123 3393, text: 86463) or the Samaritans (Dial: 116 123).


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