15 Stress-Free Revision Techniques: Conquering Exam Anxiety

Picture this: your heart is pounding like a bass drum at a rock concert, your palms are clammy as if you've just dipped them in a bath, and your mind is racing faster than a supersonic jet. Yes, my friends, we are delving once more into the terrifying, the nail-biting, the edge-of-your-seat world of exam stress!

We all know that exams are a nerve-wracking experience, whatever age you are.  But fear not!  We’ve got you covered!  We have compiled some great stress busting exam tips showing how to revise effectively, and list of useful stationery, to help you banish these jittery jitters once and for all.   

So, buckle up and let’s plunge headfirst into 15 proven strategies to help transform you into the unflappable, cool-as-a-cucumber student you’ve always aspired to be; so you can sail through those exams with confidence:

  1. Preparation for exams is key:

As the saying goes, "Fail to prepare, prepare to fail."  This is why you must NEVER underestimate the importance of a well-structured revision plan.  When answering the question of how to revise, studies show effective exam preparation is the cornerstone.  A good plan helps you manage your time and prioritise workload, so you can maintain focus on the most critical areas of study.  

This means, before you sit down and get revising, the first thing you should do is compile a solid revision plan, in a dedicated notebook.  Once this in place you're well-equipped to tackle any question that comes your way.  So, invest time in this activity – really plan it out in detail – and you will enter the exam room with confidence, knowing you've done your best.

  1. Techniques for effective revision:

There are various revision techniques that can help you retain information more efficiently and reduce exam stress. Some popular methods include:

  • Active recall: This method encourages you to actively retrieve information from memory, without referring to any notes you’ve made in your dotted journal, textbooks or a5 notebook. Regularly testing yourself using flashcards, quizzes, or practice questions written in a blank notebook, helps consolidate knowledge and identify areas that require additional focus.
  • Spaced repetition: This technique involves revisiting learned material at gradually increasing intervals. This is why writing all your revision notes in dedicated subject note books is so effective. You can instantly identify the relevant one, to grab and test yourself in a focused way. By spacing out revision sessions, you improve long-term retention and reduce the cognitive load of cramming.
  • Teaching others: Explaining concepts to a friend or family member can help reinforce understanding and identify any gaps in knowledge. A top tip is to ‘Keep it Simple, Stupid’, or KISS for short. The more easily and effortlessly you’re able to explain a topic, the better you’ll answer any corresponding exam question.
  • Visual aids: Utilising mind maps, diagrams, and flowcharts can assist in breaking down complex topics and facilitate easier recall of information. Make sure to pick a dotted notebook or lined journals with thick, 160gsm paper – so the pens you use don’t bleed through to the other side. 
  1. Organise your study space:

The humble study space – AKA a sanctuary where the magic of learning unfolds!  To make the most of your intellectual escapades, it's crucial to organise this sacred spot in a way that fosters productivity and sparks joy.  That usually means a clutter-free, comfortable and well-lit study environment, which can work wonders for reducing stress. The aim is to create a calm and inviting space where you can focus on your revision without distractions. 

Begin by decluttering and bidding adieu to any unnecessary items that could derail your focus.  Next, channel your inner Sherlock Holmes and craft a personalised organisation system that suits your unique study style.  You might opt for colour-coded folders, a series of cute notebooks for different subjects, transparent storage boxes, or a pinboard with all your revision notes and mind maps proudly on display.

Don't forget to make your study nook an inviting haven, where creativity and concentration can thrive.  

Keep your revision and journaling supplies within easy reach.  For instance, your Faber Castell pencils should be grouped near your black pens,  Sakura gelly roll and micron pens as well as a Zebra Mildliner…or two.  Paper clips and washi tape or adhesive glue should have their own pots. In short, with the right journals and pens, you are already ahead of the organisation game.

You can also introduce a touch of greenery with a low-maintenance plant - perhaps a charming succulent or the ever-trusty spider plant.

Lastly, ensure your chair and desk offer the perfect balance of comfort and ergonomics, so you can glide through hours of study without a care in the world.

With your study space transformed into a delightful fortress of knowledge, you'll be eager to dive into your revision and conquer academic goals with gusto!

  1. Practise deep breathing:

When you feel exam nerves creeping in, take a moment to practise deep, slow breaths. Inhale for a count of four, hold for a count of four, then exhale for a count of four. This simple technique really does help regulate your breathing, which in turn calms your body and mind. 

  1. Visualise exam success:

Other effective revision strategies include imagining yourself acing each test and then picturing the feeling of accomplishment. These positive visualisation techniques can help reduce anxiety and increase self-confidence.

  1. Get moving:

Exercise is a fantastic stress reliever, so make sure you incorporate physical activity into your daily routine. Go for a walk, jog, swim or practise yoga – any form of exercise can help release feel-good endorphins, clearing your mind and reducing anxiety.  A bullet journal notebook is a fantastic place to keep a record of your movement – so you never miss a day.

  1. Sleep well:

A well-rested mind is better equipped to handle stress. Which means that slumbering soundly is an absolute must if you wish to vanquish those vexing exams!

It’s during these precious hours of shut-eye that our brain is performing a veritable nocturnal ballet.  Whilst we sleep it is consolidating the day’s learnings, forging new neural pathways and recharging cognitive batteries.  This is why skimping on your kip is an absolute no no! 

Prioritise a good night's sleep during your exam period, aiming for 7-9 hours each night. Establish a bedtime routine, switch off electronic devices and create a sleep-friendly environment to ensure restful slumber.

  1. Fuel your body:

To conquer the academic battlefield, one must not overlook the importance of a well-nourished body.  It’s the very engine that powers our intellectual escapades!  

Eating a well-balanced diet can have a significant impact on stress levels. Learn to be your own gastronomic alchemist – by consuming the perfect brain-boosting fare to energise your grey matter and propel you to academic excellence!  

Why not pick an a5 journal and list all the ingredients you should be choosing to eat: whole grains to sustain energy levels, colourful fruits and nutrient dense veggies to unleash a veritable explosion of antioxidants, and lean proteins to fortify cognitive prowess. Don't forget to toss in a generous sprinkling of omega-3-rich nuts and seeds, those magical nuggets of brain-loving goodness!  

For the pièce de résistance, allow yourself the occasional indulgent treat of dark chocolate.  This won’t just titillate the taste buds, thanks to its mood-enhancing properties, you’ll feel better too.  

Armed with this delectable arsenal of nourishment, you'll bid adieu to late-night sugar crashes and give your body and brain a much-needed boost.

  1. Break it down:

Nothing looks as intimidating once you break it down – this is true of syllabus revision too.  Divide it all into smaller, manageable chunks, and tackle them one at a time. You can allocate stints for each section, based on its difficulty and importance. 

This approach not only helps keep you focused on the task at hand, it is great for preventing overwhelm.  Because it ensures you maintain a balance between academic and personal commitments, the chance of burnout is reduced.

  1. Seek support:

Talk to friends, family or teachers about your exam nerves. Sharing concerns provides relief and helps you gain perspective. You're not alone in this journey, so don't hesitate to reach out for support.

  1. Practise mindfulness:

Mindfulness techniques, such as simple breathing practices, meditation or progressive muscle relaxation, can help calm your mind and bring your focus to the present moment. Practise these techniques regularly to reduce stress and enhance concentration.

  1. Stay positive:

Develop a positive mindset by focusing on your strengths and achievements. Replace negative thoughts with affirmations and write motivational quotes in note books, or pin them on your wall, to keep your spirits high. 

  1. Plan for the exam day:

Familiarise yourself with the exam location, format, and make sure you have organised all necessary materials you will need. This preparation helps reduce uncertainty and minimises last-minute stress.

  1. Laugh it off:

In the high-stakes world of exams, the pressure can often feel overwhelming.  Amidst the revision plans and practice questions, it's easy to forget the lighter side of life.  Enter laughter, an unexpected yet powerful ally in the quest to combat exam stress.

As the saying goes, "Laughter is the best medicine," and when it comes to stress relief, it’s true. Laughter is not only an entertaining diversion from our academic pursuits but also a potent stress buster with numerous physical and psychological benefits.

For instance, did you know that when we laugh, our body undergoes a series of physiological changes.  Laughter triggers the release of endorphins, the body's natural "feel-good" chemicals, which counteract the stress hormone cortisol.

Furthermore, laughter stimulates the production of nitric oxide, a compound that dilates blood vessels and improves blood flow. This results in a drop in blood pressure and a relaxed, tension-free feeling throughout the body.  By providing a physical release for pent-up emotions, laughter alleviates the physical symptoms of stress that often accompany exam preparation.

Moreover, laughter has the power to shift our perspective on challenging situations, enabling us to approach problems with a more creative and flexible mindset.  By reframing our thoughts and embracing humour, we can reduce the anxiety and fear associated with exams, ultimately empowering ourselves to tackle our academic challenges with increased confidence.  

We say watch those funny TikTok’s, read that humorous book and share jokes with friends – having a good laugh can work wonders for easing anxiety.

  1. Reward yourself:

Finally, celebrate small victories during your revision process by treating yourself to a favourite snack, a hit of social media, or a short break. These rewards keep you motivated and inject some fun into your exam preparation.

We hope that with these revision techniques help you forge ahead and tackle exams with unshakeable confidence; poised to achieve your full potential.  The road to academic success may be fraught with challenges, but armed with newfound skills and strategies, it really is possible to overcome any obstacle and emerge victorious.