Destressing for Dummies: How to Stress Less this Exam Week

You’re living under a rock if you’re not aware that it’s exam week! Our resident certified-worry-wart Lucy Egan shares her survival guide to exam and assessment life.

Do you read course outlines at the start of the semester and think you have ages until the end? Are you someone who thinks a couple of weeks out that you still have plenty of time to study and pull that assignment together?  What about someone who puts the due dates in their calendar and/or phone and promptly forgets straight away until the tutor mentions it a few days out? Do you have no excuse but still find yourself churning out an assignment the day it’s due, or reading your jumbled notes outside of the exam room?

I have been all of these people. It’s not pretty.

As a third-year student in her fourth year of undergraduate study, you’d think I would’ve learned. But I’m still here. And so now, I’m going pass on my survival skills for exam/assessment season for all the chronic procrastinators, busy bees, stress-heads, and first-timers out there to help navigate some of that stress that inevitably comes with the university.

These are just some tips that I have learned to use to get me through, so use them at your own discretion.

Firstly, get the details of your assessments and exam sorted, preferably a week or two before they are due. What time are they, what format are they in? What kind of study do you need to do to set yourself up the best way possible? Do you need time off work if it’s a day you usually work? Do you need to check books out from the library or catch up last minute on lectures? Is it an online exam and you need to organise a secure wifi connection?

Planning is key. If the assignment is due at 5pm, make sure you know so you don’t have to do a mad scramble to get it in because you thought you had till midnight. Find out what type of learner you are so you can give yourself a leg up; check out an online quiz.

Next, break it down. What’s involved in your exam or assessment? What are you expected to know? If you don’t know or understand, get in touch with your lecturer or tutor. Catch up on any work you may have missed or thought you wouldn’t need. It’s Newton’s Law that whatever you don’t think you need, will be in the exam. Break it into chunks and try to do a bit every day so it’s not so overwhelming.

Here are some overall coping tips if you have a handle on the assignment, but not the stress:

Find somewhere you can study effectively; I am easily distracted so I have to hide in my room to go to the library for peer pressure.

Keep your basics of life up. It sounds simple but when you are buried under a mountain of university work, it can be hard to keep perspective.

Find the time to squeeze some exercise in, as the blood flow to your brain will help, as well as the endorphins.

Make sure you eat regularly and keep a bottle of water by your computer.

Use caffeine as needed and give yourself breaks. Even if it’s ten minutes on TikTok (set a timer so you stay on target). Make sure you stretch and walk around, and look at something 20 metres away at least every 20 minutes.

Get outside for some sunlight and fresh air.

Try to get as much sleep as possible.

Talk to friends and keep in touch, even if it’s just to complain about it.


University exams and assessments are a marathon, so make sure you prepare accordingly.

Feature Image by @mayamaceka via Unsplash

1 comment

  1. Maintaining Your New Year’s Resolutions (2022 Edition) – Yak Media 3 January, 2022 at 13:24 Reply

    […] Utilising New Perspectives: The pandemic has altered perceptions of our time, how we use it and how we value it. As well as perhaps teaching us to value our time more, the pandemic has provided opportunities to develop a unique perspective of our personal habits and vulnerabilities. Understanding our habits and why we may struggle to adopt new ones can be extremely beneficial, and arguably necessary in navigating how to change them. Psychologist Katherine Arbuthnott discusses the benefits of identifying your weaknesses and vulnerabilities in the New Year,  “These personal points of pain can give people some idea of what resolutions they might make.” For example, if during 2021 you’ve become increasingly stressed, perhaps make a resolution to seek out and implement strategies that help you destress. […]

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