Study and Exam Stress

Keeping on top of our mental health during exams and when we’re stressed about study can be a challenge! We’ve gathered some resources that you might find useful in managing your mental health and balancing study, so check them out! And don’t forget to review our stress and exam anxiety tips below. 

Study and Wellbeing Boosters

Organisation and Planning

  • Breaking time down into smaller, more manageable chunks can help you to feel less overwhelmed.
  • Planning out your study can help you to easily track what you were supposed to have done that day, and if you accomplished it, as well as ensuring you have adequate time to cover everything you need to before your exams.
  • Block in study time by subject or topic, as well scheduling free time and other activities you have planned. Make sure your plan is realistic and achievable. Use excel to build and customize your own timetable, or try one of our blank timetables. 

Take Regular Study Breaks

  • Find a pattern that works for you. Try studying for 50 minutes, then take a 10-minute break. If you really struggle with focusing, try 35 minutes with a 5-minute break. 
  • Regular breaks increase focus and attention. Use the time to grab a healthy snack or some sunshine and fresh air. 
  • Stand up and get away from your desk during your breaks. Brief physical exercise during the breaks can increase blood flow which is good for mental alertness (e.g. 20 squats, skipping for 2 minutes). 
  • Don’t start something that will take longer than your allocated break time.
  • Check out our study resource on the 

Location, Location, Location

  • Ensure you have a dedicated study space! Going to the same space when it’s time to study helps to remind your brain that it’s study time. 
  • Have everything you need before you start. 
  • Put phones/video games/consoles out of sight. Turn off notifications on your phone or laptop. Temporarily block social media sites. 
  • Make sure the lights are bright, and the room is a comfortable temperature.  
  • Keep it tidy! If your space is messy, this can increase feelings of stress and disorganisation. 

Practice Regular Relaxation Activities

  • See our infographic on why deep breathing is good for reducing stress and anxiety. Use some of your study breaks to engage in breathing, mindfulness, or meditation practices. 

Don't Forget About Your Physical Health

  • Get enough sleep. A lack of sleep reduces the time you spend in REM sleep each night. REM sleep is the stage that solidifies learning from the day (it’s also when you dream). Less sleep = less REM = less recall. 
  • Keep a balanced diet. Don’t overdo it on caffeine. Caffeine increases stress, anxiety, irritability, and restlessness. Similarly, avoid alcohol! Alcohol increases cortisol (your body’s stress hormone). This elevates your blood pressure and heart rate, which leads your body to feel physically stressed and anxious. Alcohol also reduces sleep quality, which further contributes to low energy, poor retention of information, and an increase in feelings of stress and anxiety. 
  • Keep up with regular exercise. Exercise boosts energy, increases positive endorphins, reduces anxiety and stress, improves our physical health, and improves sleep. See our infographic on why deep breathing is good for reducing stress and anxiety. Use some of your study breaks to engage in breathing, mindfulness, or meditation practices. 

Reward Yourself

  • Reward yourself for meeting your goals. This maintains motivations and provides a small dopamine boost. 
  • Rewards can be spending time with friends, a yummy treat, playing X-Box for a certain amount of time, buying yourself something nice, watching an episode of your favourite tv show, etc. 
  • You can do daily rewards, weekly rewards, and don’t forget a BIG reward after you finish your exams! 

Keep Perspective

  • ATAR and ᰮ 11 and 12 exams are not going to be the defining point for the rest of your life. 
  • If you don’t get into the course you want, or get the grades you are hoping for, or you picked the wrong subjects in school, there are multiple options still available to get you where you want to go. 
  • Check out from past Australian ᰮ 12 students who have shared their experiences with ATAR results.  

Time to call in the professionals?

If you are struggling with managing stress and it's impacting on your wellbeing, you may need to call in some backup. 

Check out our Finding Help or Apps and Websites pages for further information on online resources, helplines, and people who can help.