• Kat Crossley

Beating the Exam Time Freak Out: 10 Tips for Less Exam Stress


Exam season is the worst time on the law school calendar, and devoting every waking moment you have to revision is definitely not going to make it any better. Taking time out for some of these stress relieving activities will help you to chill out and also do better in your exams.

1. Avoid people who stress you out

You’ve probably run into this type of student at every exam since you started law school. You know, the student who tells you “I’m so screwed for the property exam, I have done practically no study at all!” Research has found that stress can be contagious, so if people around you are stressed, you’ll likely end up feeling stressed too. Avoid or limit contact with people who stress you out and the lead up to exams will be much easier.

2. Listen to Music

If you’re freaking out in the lead up to finals, log onto Spotify or reach for your iPod. Listening to music can reduce stress and help you to feel happier and more motivated. If you’re struggling to retain case names and details, a good study playlist can also help your memory.

3. Get a House Plant

Having a potted plant or two around your study space will help to reduce stress, increase optimism and alleviate depression. House plants also enhance creativity and increase productivity.

4. Tango

Apparently the dance is one of the most effective ways of reducing stress, depression and anxiety. If tango isn’t quite your thing, look for a team sport or an activity that combines exercise and a social element – you’ll release those endorphins and escape your study hibernation all in the one go.

5. Start your day the night before

It can be difficult to muster the motivation to get going in the mornings, so help your sleepy brain out by making the start of the day a bit easier. If you’re planning a day in the library or tomorrow is the day of the dreaded exam, pack your book bag, make your study snacks and get your outfit ready the night before. It might not sound like much but these little things can really help to reduce your stress at the start of each day.

6. Allocate Extra Time

A lot of exam-related stress comes from thinking that you would have completed a particular task by now, and that the incomplete job is now eating into the time you’d allowed for another study task. Being realistic about the amount of time you allocate for your studies will make your revision a lot less overwhelming.

7. Say “No”

Your next exam is a few days away but work wants you to come in for an extra shift and your friends want you to play paintball with them tomorrow. If you know that you need the time to study, don’t be afraid to turn down or postpone additional activities until after exams.

8. Turn off your Phone

It’ll be weird at first, but you’ll really notice the difference that reducing technological distractions makes to your stress levels and your productivity. Bonus points if you can also switch off your laptop (aka the Facebook Machine) and revise without it for an hour or two.

9. Bake

If you’re already procrastibaking in between study sessions, carry on. The combination of creativity, tasty snacks (especially chocolate treats to improve your mood) and some time away from your desk will probably help with stress relief.

10. Help Someone Else

Taking time out to help others will reduce feelings of isolation and stress. Whether it’s helping your friend to understand hearsay or going to your regular volunteering session at a community legal centre, acts of kindness will help you to worry less about exams, and may serve to remind you why you chose to study law in the first place.

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