College Exams: Hints for Managing Stress

Exam season is a time when stress levels are higher than usual. Stress can be positive; helping you to stay motivated and focused. But too much stress can be unhelpful. It can make you feel overwhelmed, confused, exhausted, and edgy. It’s important to try and keep things in perspective and find ways of reducing stress if things seem to be getting on top of you.

Here are some tips for managing exam stress: 

  • Learn effective study habits. Check out the Exam Time: Tips for Effective Studying article for more practical advice on effective study techniques. 
  • Keep your routine outside studying and take regular breaks. It’s important to have regular study breaks and time for relaxation and exercise.
  • Don’t abuse. Caffeine, coffee, No Doze pills, and energy drinks, and other drugs like speed or cocaine can give you a short lift, but only before causing you to crash and burn. You’ll actually study better with regular breaks, lots of sleep, and regular exercise.
  • Manage expectations. Remember that you’re in control of your life and your grades. Put the exam into context and talk to someone about how you feel.
  • Look after your body. If it’s possible, try to get a good night’s sleep. It’s also a good idea to eat plenty of fruits and vegetables and drink plenty of water.
  • Ask for and accept help. It’s important to ask for and accept support from your teachers, counselor, or family if you can. If you need to talk to someone for additional support try the Boys Town National Hotline at 1-800-448-3000.
  • Have a number of options for the future. Getting the grades to pass a class or get into your first choice school is great, but it’s not the end of the world if you don’t. There are other options to achieve your goals.
  • Remember…There’s always a light at the end of the tunnel. Once the paper’s been turned in, there’s nothing more you can do to influence the outcome, which means now it’s time to enjoy your break!

Acknowledgement: This fact sheet was originally developed by youth and staff at, a website that helps teens get through tough times. 


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