Our Exam Stress Management Guide!

Part 1: How to prevent stress

Sarah Grewing 16.01.2014
You've just polished off your last chocolate Santa and vacuumed up the final bits of confetti from the New Year's Eve party, and lo and behold: it's the end of yet another term! That means that much-dreaded exam time has arrived. For most students this involves an endless amount of reading, presentations and note-taking to track down the most important information for impending exams and term papers. 

And on top of it all, you might have a part-time job, a sports club, social commitments and, not least, daily chores such as shopping, cleaning, etc., etc...It can all add up to pure stress! To keep you from being overwhelmed by mountains of paper or biting your nails down to the quick, today we offer you some useful stress prevention tips.

Organization vs. procrastination

Klausurenphase bedeutet für viele Studierende Stress

Organization is everything! You’ll realize this as you’re sitting in front of your PC re-watching a video of cute cats for the zillionth time rather than getting out your books and preparing for your exams. Drawing up a detailed study timetable can prevent such procrastinating behavior. The best thing is to plan learning periods with specific contents and – especially important – don’t forget to include enough breaks. According to an American study, a short nap after studying can even help you to memorize what you have just learned.

Get rid of disruptive influences

You’ve just spread your books across the kitchen table of your shared apartment and are eager to get started when your roommates decide to pick this moment for a spontaneous cooking party? This is sure to spell the end of an evening spent studying. To avoid such distractions, you should look for somewhere quiet where you can work uninterrupted. Declare your room a noise-free study zone or go to the library, as this will allow you to make full use of your study periods and to really enjoy the breaks.


I’ve tidied up the apartment and done the dishes, discussed the latest gossip with my best friend and then baked granny's birthday cake... Hang on, I forgot something there! Wasn't I supposed to be studying? Especially before exams, the order of the day is: prioritize and wave goodbye to your own perfectionism. Not everything always has to be done straight away and your friends and family are bound to understand that school comes first when your exams are on the horizon.

Create incentives

You’ve just finished a particularly difficult study unit or managed to tick off an important point on your to-do list? Then why not reward yourself? Small treats increase your feeling of well-being and your motivation. The rule is: anything goes. Treat yourself to that new tablet that's been on your wish list for ages or invite your friends over for a DVD evening.

Think positively

Especially around the stressful time before and during exams, many students are plagued by self-doubt and a fear of failure. Everyone is bound to be familiar with inner monologues that run along the lines of “I'll never remember all that” or “I'm bound to flunk.” Ask yourself in such a moment why you are feeling so desperate at precisely that moment. Maybe you just need a short break, fresh air or a small snack. However, what is far more important than the question “why” is to get rid of your negative thoughts as quickly as you can and replace them with positive ones. Remember past successes and say to yourself , “I can do this” or “I can do this just as well as others can,” because it's true!

In time, drawing up a study timetable that suits you best will become routine and you will learn to spot the warning signs. Don't be afraid to seek help when you think it's all getting to be too much for you! Most student support services run by universities offer counseling or seminars on how to cope with stress, test anxiety or study difficulties.

We hope that our tips will help you to get through a stressful time and we wish you all the best for your exams! And don’t forget – the end of the term also means the end of lectures! If stress does get the best of you from time to time after all, don't despair: In part 2 of our stress management guide, we tell you all about various relaxation techniques.

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