How to Manage Exam Stress

With exam season coming, check out some tips on the most effective ways to handle stress...


This assessment period of the academic year can be stressful and difficult for students, with upcoming deadlines for many to tackle. 

One important feature of learning and achievement is academic self-efficacy. This is our internal belief system in our ability to be competent and to succeed academically. These belief systems can have a negative impact on our confidence and ability to do complex tasks. 

A factor that could be decreasing your academic self-efficacy could be your belief in not being good-enough. However, it is important to remember that you are; there is lots of evidence to support this, for example, you gained a place at university and continue to study. 

Another factor that could be hindering your academic self-efficacy is having gaps in your learning.

Remember that gaps in learning are not gaps in your ability! Everyone who comes to university will have gaps in their learning. University is meant to challenge you and develop your skills and career in the music industry."  

Many students are worried that any disruption to their learning can mean they are not ready for assessments, and this adds additional layers of stress.

While working towards assessments can form feelings of worry, stress and feeling under pressure, there are steps you can follow in order for you to feel confident in your ability and help prepare you for these academic deadlines.

Check out our tips and insights below and contact our team if you need further support.

Keep everything in perspective

Remember that assessment success does not define you as a person.

You can still be a talented musician and become successful in the industry. You’ve come very far already! 

Get organised

Break down your work into small chunks and form a study plan.

Schedule in plenty of time to rest, unwind and protect this time. Rest is just as important as completing work.  

Cultivate good habits

Drink water and eat healthy foods. Take part in exercise and activities such as yoga or walking. Try and get eight hours of sleep. Take frequents breaks, such as using a time management technique like Pomodoro. Finally, practice some self-care. 

Try and avoid bad habits

Don’t set unrealistic goals, such as working 24/7. Avoid stimulants, such as caffeine, alcohol and nicotine. Don’t cut out all enjoyment from your life.  

Don't compare yourself to others

Focus on your uniqueness, embrace what makes you human rather than comparing yourself to others too much.

You can even write a list about what you like about yourself. Practice saying positive affirmations.  

Get support when you can

Speaking to friends, family, tutors or our team here at Student Wellbeing can help alleviate feelings of stress. 

While academic stress is inevitable with upcoming deadlines, there is also the risk of burnout. Burnout is a state of emotional, physical and mental exhaustion, caused by feeling stressed and overwhelmed over a long period of time. Burnout can be caused by multiple factors; such as having too many tasks on your to-do list, lack of control over your life, factors in your personal life. 

Some signs of burnout include: 

Exhausted all the time

While we can all experience this from time to time, if you are experiencing always feeling tired or sleepy, sore or weak muscles, mood swings or irritability, you could be experiencing mental burnout symptoms caused by fatigue.  

Lack of motivation

Another symptom of burnout can include a lack of motivation, especially in a subject that you were previously excited and enthusiastic about.  

Constant frustration or cynicism

Everyone gets frustrated with their work from time to time.

However, when you are constantly feeling negative emotions towards your work, then it could be a sign of burnout. 

Always feeling stressed or on edge

Stress is an unavoidable reality of having deadlines and assignments.

Small amounts of stress in short bursts have been shown to increase productivity and focus. However, feeling consistently stressed can not only be a sign of burnout but can restrict your performance. 

Regular headaches and stomach aches 

The body and mind are interconnected and intertwined. When we are feeling overwhelmed and burnt out, this could manifest into physical symptoms, such as headaches or stomach aches.   

If you are experiencing levels of burnout, then please share this with somebody. It could be with your GP, Programme team or one of the Student Wellbeing team. 

Finally, one crucial tip for when you are feeling stressed is to play music. It can help externalise and express emotions and help distracts you from negative thoughts. 

Good luck with your studies and get in touch with our team if you need any support...

Take the first steps in your music career with ICMP

We've been developing and delivering contemporary music education for over 30 years – longer than any other music school in the UK. With a proven track-record, countless music industry connections and unrivalled access to facilities, it's easy to see why hundreds of students choose ICMP each year. 

To completely immerse yourself in your music career, chat with our friendly Admissions Team via email or give them a call on 020 7328 0222.

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by Student Wellbeing Team
May 8, 2024
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