Exam Relaxation Tips

This blog post has been updated by Kristina Rust, Career Consultant on May 9, 2024 for relevancy, inclusivity, and formatting.

Here are some tips that I’ve found to be really helpful to reduce stress during finals. The weeks before finals are that point in the semester when your motivation is at an all-time low and stress is at an all-time high. This is the time when you are so close and yet so far away from finishing the drill. As a third year student myself, I’ve taken my fair share of final exams, most of them as stressful and overwhelming as can be. Do not let the stress weigh you down!

Pace Yourself

When exams hit, the temptation is to buckle down and pull all-nighters, studying non-stop in an effort to cram as much as you can into your memory. Feeling short on time adds to the stress. Start early, make sure you put plenty of time into studying, but also take some time off to relax and refresh. Retentaining information is aided by proper pacing, so take a break and do something fun! Go for a run or grab dinner with friends, and you’ll be fresher and more alert when you get back to studying.

Alternate Between Subjects

Altering studying material for different tests helps me stay relaxed. If I study for one test too long, I tend to overthink the material and the questions which may or may not be on the test. I also stress about the other tests for which I need to prepare for; they are constantly on the back of my mind. When you break up your study regimen by switching up the different subjects for which you’re studying, you naturally provide yourself with study breaks, AND you feel more productive in your studies because you’ve studied for multiple exams.   

Go to Bed Early

Personally, I have found that I tend to get in a rut and want to start studying non-stop during finals season. Being a night owl, I tend to work better at night, so my study sessions will go way later than they should. However, the more tired you get the less material you absorb and even less you retain. When this is the case, sleep becomes the better investment of your time. If you can afford to rest before the exam, you will be more relaxed, more alert, and your brain will readily serve you during the exam.


When I enter the exam room, I am usually preoccupied with the question, “How could I have prepared better for this exam?”

I usually tell myself, “I could’ve studied more,” or “If I had just been on top of things earlier in the semester, I wouldn’t feel this stressed.”

While it's easy to think these thoughts, the reality is that it’s time to take the final. Instead of focusing on what you could or couldn’t have done better, focus on the matter at hand. Read the instructions carefully. Understand the questions. Answer to your best ability.

In the end, like anything in life, this is a balancing act. Make sure that you’re allotting enough time for your studies, but at the same time, don’t drive yourself crazy with stress. Your toughest opponent is always going to be yourself, so if you can stop stress at the root, you win.

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