Skip to Main Content
National College of Ireland


Exams guide: Looking After Yourself

Revision and Preparation

Revision and Preparation

A healthy amount of nerves is fine for an exam but do make sure that you don’t become overly stressed as this will impact on your ability to revise properly and perform to the best of your ability in your exams

The best way to reduce exam anxiety is being organised in your revision and planned exam strategies – improve your approach to study and revision

Take a look at these revision techniques – by refreshing how you study, you can feel more in control and less anxious. For instance, don't revise and eat a meal at the same time - take a break

Looking After Yourself

Look After Yourself

Try not to spend too much time around people who are stressed – you need to try and stay calm and positive

Be careful about what you eat and drink. Don’t drink too much coffee or high energy drinks – adrenaline can increase anxiety; stay hydrated by drinking water instead. Food and drink high in sugar can lead you to feel even more nervy or jittery. Food and drink that is more beneficial for stress management includes – fresh fruit, fresh vegetables, pasta, potatoes, water, milk and herbal tea

Make sure you get enough sleep – the night before the exam, stop revising half an hour before you go to bed. Try to avoid last-minute revision, this can leave you confused and anxious going into the exam

Take regular exercise -  this can help you to relax and think more clearly

Build some leisure time into your revision plan – this will help to give you little rewards to work towards and distract you from worrying about the exam

Use relaxation techniques to help keep you calm

Try not to wait outside the exam room for too long before the exam, this will only increase your nerves; instead, try and find a relaxing space nearby

If you are feeling stressed while waiting to begin an exam, try regulating and controlling your breathing – this can help to calm you down

When sitting exams try and eliminate negative thoughts as much as possible – these will only undermine you and impact on your ability to perform to the best of your ability

Be wary of the post-mortem exam conversations with your classmates – these can lead to unnecessary worry and anxiety if you begin to anticipate that you haven’t done as well as others. 

The best strategy is to forget about the exam you've done, give yourself a break and then concentrate on the next exam.

Keep Things in Perspective

Keep Things in Perspective

The first thing to remember is that the people setting and marking the exams want as many people as possible to pass

Remember that exams are not an examination of your self-worth – some people are better at them than others; you can only do your best and if the exam doesn’t go well for you, most of the time you will have an option to re-sit it

Keep any post-exam conversations in perspective, there is nothing you can do to change things once the exam is over

If things didn’t go well in an exam, often there will be a second chance; even if there isn’t, life will go on afterwards and you will find another way forward

If you find that you are experiencing especially high levels of stress, please seek medical advice and contact your tutor, school office and college support services