How I Learned To Stop Worrying and Love the Exam Period

It’s finally upon us. The dreaded exam period started last Friday and will continue through to Thursday 17th of November. It’s a high stress time for all of us and many students struggle to get through this period. So, what are some ways to not only survive the exam period, but thrive to get the best marks possible?


As I pointed out in last week’s post, planning is key during the exam period. Not only is it important to plan out your exam study, it’s also crucial to plan out when exactly your exams will be. A simple planner such as this one, will go a long way to making you feel more prepared leading up to an exam.



By mapping out when your exams are in advance you’ll be able to prioritise your study more effectively. You’ll also avoid those nasty surprises that go with forgetting about exams.

Taking care of yourself

It may seem obvious, but making sure you factor in time to look after yourself during the exam period will go a long way in helping you feel more relaxed. Things like eating well, doing some exercise and getting a good night’s sleep before an exam are all very important.



Staying up all hours of the night and shacking up in your room to study are good ways to make yourself feel even more stressed about the coming exam. Excessive caffeine is another thing to avoid. Coffee may seem like a good idea at the time, but it only adds to those feelings of stress and anxiety.


There’s nothing like an exam to get you feeling some legit anxiety. When that happens, it’s best to take a step back from everything for a moment, and realise that exams are not the end of the world. Life will go on if things don’t go well.



If you’re still feeling anxious and stressed, La Trobe has some great counselling services available to all students including international and regional students. As always, the Student Development Advisers are another option as well.

Exam Strategies

So you’ve just sat down in your exam, what are some common problems that students face?

Going blank

The main thing to do if your mind goes blank during an exam is to stay calm. On a physical level, have some deep breaths and try and clear your head for a bit.

Once you’ve done this, try to write down some key words about the topic to help jog your memory. If none of this works, move on to another question and come back to it later.

Running out of time

If things do go south, and you find yourself running out of time, the best thing to do is to re-allocate your time. Identify the questions worth the most points and attempt them first.

Also, remember that the first few marks of a question are easier to get. So, two half answers can sometimes be better than fully answering one question.

Writer’s cramp

There’s nothing worse than feeling that pain in your hand as you scramble to write during an exam. It’s usually a sign of gripping your pen too hard, which can come as a result of stress and anxiety. In this case, take a few seconds to try and relax, breathing deeply and laying your hands out flat on the table.



In my personal experience, I always take ‘writer’s cramp’ as something of a good sign, because it usually means that I have lots in my head that I want to write about that I’m madly trying to get onto the page. Sitting back for a second, and actually thinking about what I want to write and how I want to write it is usually helpful in this situation.


This is one that we’ve all had hammered in since the early days of primary school. Yet without fail, we’re too eager to answer a question and don’t read it fully, often missing a key premise. I’m definitely guilty of this.

Bringing a highlighter into an exam, and colouring key parts of questions is a great way to make sure you don’t missing anything.

How do you deal with the exam period? Do you have any special exam strategies? Let us know in the comments!