During Exams

Tips for keeping calm during the exam

Try to avoid panic.
It's natural to feel some exam nerves prior to starting the exam and that can be a positive and motivating feeling. However, getting excessively nervous is counterproductive as it hinders your ability to think clearly.

Breathe deep.
The quickest and most effective way of eliminating feelings of stress and panic is to close your eyes and take several long, slow deep breaths. Breathing in this way calms your whole nervous system.

If your mind goes blank, don't panic - it just makes it harder to recall information. Instead, focus on slow, deep breathing for about one minute. If you still can't remember the information then move on to another question and return to this question later.

Don’t dwell on past exams.
Don't spend time focussing where you think you went wrong. Often we are our own harshest critics. Congratulate yourself for the things you did right, learn from the bits where you know you could have done better, and then move on.

Pace yourself

Read the instructions - ask the teacher or invigilator if anything seems unclear - DON'T PANIC!

  Read all of the questions, twice if necessary, and give yourself time to answer those you are required to do.

  Plan how much time you'll need for each question. If you're stuck on a question, go on to the next. You can always come back to the unfinished one later.

  If you're really stuck, try to have an intelligent guess anyway.

  Leave time to read through and check your answers before the exam finishes.

 Perform as well as you can

  • YOU'RE YOU, so you can only do the best that you can on the day.
  • Knowing that you've done your best on the day may help you overcome feelings of letting anyone down.
  • Don't go through the answers afterwards with your friends if it is only going to make you more worried.
  • Try to put the last exam out of your mind and look ahead to the next one - you can't go back and change things.


  • Exams over? Pat yourself on the back - it's time to relax and forget about them.
  • If you did well - CONGRATULATIONS!


  • Remember, there's life beyond exam results. Disappointing results are not the end of the world - even if it does feel that way at the time. You might decide to resit, and there'll be lots of other opportunities to express yourself and succeed later on in life.

Don't bottle it up

During or after the exams, if you feel that you can't cope with the pressure, or are feeling stressed, find someone to talk to - don't bottle it up! Try to talk to parents, teachers, friends, or call ChildLine free of charge and in confidence on 0800 1111.

Good luck!