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Dealing With Exam Stress

The Junior Certificate and Leaving Certificate exams can be very stressful for students and for everyone who is rooting for the students during this time. Appropriate amounts of anxiety and stress are expected and can even be helpful, however when these start to become overwhelming, they can impact on students negatively. In this blog we are going to provide some strategies for anyone doing exams, to help you remain calm and perform at your best.


Leading up to the exam

The lead up to the exam period is an opportunity to set yourself up for a more positive experience. Due to the demand on time, it is not unusual to prioritise preparing for the exam over other things such as attending training for your sport, getting outside for a walk, seeing friends and family and even sleeping and eating well. Our first piece of advice is to not let exam preparations prevent you from engaging in these healthy habits. We know that can be easier said than done but making time for exercise, social connections and looking after your body with good hydration and nutrition will increase your productivity when you are preparing and will also reduce your stress levels.


In the lead up to an exam, it is very natural to discuss your exam preparations with your friends and classmates. Even without discussing preparations, often you are exposed to what others are doing through social media. Sometimes it can offer reassurance, however most of the time it causes unnecessary stress. It might be useful to take a break from social media on the lead up to the exam period and consider focusing only on your own preparations and trusting that as long as you are doing the best for you then that is enough.

During the exams

During the exam period, it is again natural to discuss feelings about an exam both before and after. We would advise you steer away from this during the exams as stress and anxiety can be contagious. Before the exam try to trust that you are prepared enough and after the exam trust that you have done your best. Natrually if the stress or anxiety you feel is overwhelming, know that you can always talk to a supportive adult or therapist about how your feeling and help is available.


When the exams start, it can be useful to have some techniques for when stress hits either right before an exam or during an exam that is challenging. The 5-4-3-2-1 technique involved naming 5 things you can see, 4 things you can feel, 3 things you can hear, 2 things you can smell and 1 thing you can taste. This technique will help you turn your attention away from the anxiety and help you refocus your attention on the present moment.


In the middle of the exams, although time demands are even greater. Keep trying to find time for those habits you were implementing on the lead up to the exam. Getting good sleep, exercising, eating well and connecting with those you love will do more for your exam performance than sacrificing these things for cramming.


After the exams

Regardless of how you feel the exams went, it is normal to ruminate on the pending results. Although this is normal, after the exams have ended, do your best to put the results to the back of your mind and focus on the present moment. Be proud of yourself for getting through the exams and remind yourself that although exam results can be important, they are not what defines you.


P.s Don't forget to celebrate by doing something you enjoy afterwards, you deserve it !

At Evolve we would like to wish all students the very best of luck in their upcoming exams. If you need professional help or guidance before, during or after this important time in your life, feel free to get in touch with us and we will arrange an appointment for you.

Students: N.B - 30% off all sessions with valid student ID.


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