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11 Stress-Busting Exam Tips That Will Help You Do Your Best

Since semester exams are around the corner, let’s take a look at these exam study tips and test taking tips that can reduce stress, combat anxiety, and increase your chances of getting the exam score you’re hoping for:

One: Ask your teacher for advice.

Before it’s time to study for exams, ask your teacher if he or she has any advice about which concepts or skills you should focus on when studying, or if there are any test taking strategies or study methods (like flash cards, practice tests, review of archived lessons, etc.) that the teacher particularly recommends.

Two: Get an exam game plan.

Before you dive into studying, jot down a plan of action that outlines how you’re going to tackle all of your exam preparation:

  • What days/times will you set aside to study?

  • How much study time do you need to allot for each exam?

  • Do you have a quiet, uncluttered space where you can read or work on your laptop?

  • Are you studying alone, working with other students, or working with your parent/academic coach—or all three?

  • Do you need to round up any materials, resources or assets in order to be ready to study?

Three: Set realistic goals.

Students who try to review or master too many concepts during exam prep aren’t setting themselves up for success, nor are students who declare overly-ambitious goals, like “I have to get an A” when they’ve mostly gotten “Bs” or “Cs” all semester.

Instead, narrow your game plan to focus your prep on the concepts that you think are the most important (see Tip One), and set realistic goals for yourself, such as “I will do my best to prepare for this test and remain calm and focused while I’m taking it”, rather than earning a particular score.

Four: Study in “chunks”.

While some exams may only require a few hours of prep in order to be ready to do your best, others will call for a bigger effort. Rather than try to cram everything into one marathon session, break up your studying into multi-day sessions—and speaking of breaks, don’t forget to take a few while you’re working. Stand up, stretch, chat with a friend, or take a short brisk walk that clears the mind, elevates your mood, and helps you stay focused.

Five: Unclutter the schedule.

Do your best to keep the calendar extra-manageable until the last test has been turned in—the week leading up to exams is not a good time to overbook, eat irregular meals, or go to bed late each night.

Six: Make sure you have the right supplies and ready-to-go equipment.

A little preparation can make the difference between chaos and calm on the day of final exams. Before it’s time to report for the test, make sure that you have everything you need: Pens or pencils that work, scratch paper, charged-up laptops or calculators, a reliable WiFi signal, a jacket in case the room gets cold, bottled water, etc.

Seven: Eat a nutritious breakfast, but don’t go overboard.

While a big breakfast of pancakes, bacon, and hot chocolate may seem like a fabulous exam day treat, test takers who are over-full or who’ve had too much sugar or caffeine are subject to either “crashing” or getting sleepy a few hours later.

Instead, choose a medium-sized breakfast that’s high on protein but low on sugar—and if your mornings tend to be rushed, consider prepping food items the night before. Get tips and ideas for nutritious breakfasts for kids and teens.

Eight: Don’t run late.

Oversleeping or getting dressed in a rush can rattle even the most confident test takers, so you’ll want to make sure that you set a backup alarm and allow plenty of time to get ready on the morning of semester or final exams.

Nine: Stay calm.

By the time it’s exam day, there’s no point in stressing about what you don’t know, right? Instead, whip up some confidence by thinking about everything that you do know, and then visualize yourself acing the parts of the exam that cover those topics.

If you do come to a question or a prompt that stumps you, close your eyes, take a few deep breaths and then decide how you want to handle it. If you’re feeling particularly anxious, you might want to do the same thing before you even start the exam: Close your eyes, breathe deeply, and tell yourself “I’ve got this”. Chances are you’ll end up amazed at what the power of positive self-talk can do for you!

Ten: Take your time.

You don’t get any extra points for finishing fast or finishing first, so don’t be afraid to review each question carefully or to take all the time that’s allotted for the test.

If you find yourself with extra time before you have to submit, go back and review your work to make sure you didn’t skip anything or overlook a mistake—but don’t start second guessing your answers, as your first instinct is usually the correct one.

Eleven: Line up something fun to do after exams are over.

Whether it’s a weekend trip, a sleepover with friends, a movie outing, or a shopping trip, scheduling something fun on the calendar within 48 hours of the last exam is a great way to take the edge off stress and reward yourself for a job well done.

Good luck!


Dr. Kaye Rogers received her Ph.D. in Educational Administration with a minor in Statistics from the University of North Texas. She earned her Master’s degree in Educational Leadership from Tarleton State University. A life-long Texan, she has taught math and science in public schools and also in Spain. She has worked in public education for over 18 years, where she is committed to innovation and choice for families. She has opened three choice schools and is currently the Director of Virtual Learning at Grapevine-Colleyville ISD, where she oversees their state-wide virtual school and blended schools program.

Learn more about iUniversity Prep and see if online learning is right for your child. Check us out at or give us a call at 817-305-4895.

Unedited excerpts from this article as well as the article in its unedited entirety may be re-published by news media and education-related blogs and websites, giving proper attribution to the author. All other entities must seek permission first. Digital editors: Please backlink to

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