With so much at stake, it’s no wonder that students find the exam period so stressful. And often, university isn’t an environment entirely conducive to strict, regimented study and steely focus. There are distractions; of the pub, Neighbours, friends in adjacent rooms with gossip to share, this article to read…and sometimes, getting your head down and into a book can be the last thing on your mind. But your future depends on it, so it’s time to get cracking. But first, breathe. Here are 5 IDEAL tips for beating exam stress.


Though it may seem counterintuitive to already be imploring you to put your book down, the benefits of taking yourself away from study and into the great outdoors shouldn’t be underestimated. A change of scenery can oftentimes be all that your brain needs to recharge and reset itself, giving you a clean slate to start over again when you get back to work. When learning and storing information, the subconscious needs time to process. If you overwork yourself and overload your brain with too many facts to handle, you risk burnout and you’ll likely end up not doing half as much revision as you would have with small breaks in between.


Time management, in terms of study and downtime, is one of the essential skills learnt and perfected at college and university. The key, of course, is finding that happy medium. Don’t fall into the trap of spending every minute of your day tied to your textbooks or to the bar; work smarter, not harder, we think. 

Great time management, in essence, comes down to advance planning and scheduling ahead, whether that means dedicating a set time every week to doing laundry or batch cooking to making sure you’ve got enough coffee in to see you through the week without several trips to Costa (other cafe merchants are available) – especially during those late night study sessions.

And then, of course, there is the studying itself to be timetabled. Students at Oxford or Cambridge, for instance, who make a strict plan are always the ones who tend to excel during exam periods. The temptation is to leave everything until the last possible minute, but our brains just don’t work well under that kind of pressure. Instead, lay out your study aims carefully, devotedly, and stick to it accordingly.


Late-night study sessions and early lectures are a regular part of life at university or college, but it goes without saying that you won’t be able to function if you’re not getting a nightly dose of those magic eight hours. You might think that pulling an all-night revision session is the best way to prepped and primed for your exam the next day but depriving yourself of sleep is one of the worst things you can do. Indeed, we’d go as far as to say that you should be paying as much attention to getting eight hours per night as you are with your revision in the day. 

It can be tempting to burn the candle at both ends, but a lack of sleep will ruin your concentration, impair your memory and deplete your confidence, meaning retaining information learnt in lectures will be tougher. Don’t make things difficult for yourself unnecessarily; to get the best quality sleep possible, avoid caffeine and other stimulants late in the day, give heavy boozing sessions a miss and try to limit any daytime naps. Of course, as with most things in life, an everything in moderation approach should do you fine.


Some good news, at last! Dark chocolate and the antioxidants it contains can do wonders for brain power, helping you to be able to focus better and lifting mood with each glorious bite. Other brain food also credited with giving your mind a little more magic include fatty fish such as salmon and trout, blueberries and nuts. The fact they all happen to be utterly delicious is merely coincidence.


With several devices blinking in tandem in your room, it can be pretty hard to limit distractions when beginning a study session. And while it may sound difficult, It’s a good idea to completely remove yourself from the temptations of social media during this time. Should you have sufficient willpower, use it, but otherwise, you can install limiters on your phone which shut you out from your favourite apps during designated parts of the day; a useful trick when you need to get your head down. Instead, use things like Facebook and Instagram as rewards for doing solid hours of work, rather than having them be a tool of procrastination when you should be doing more important revision. Go a step further and take yourself to a library, and leave your phone off or at home, for an even steelier focus. 


Rachel is the beauty and fashion director at IDEAL. She loves trying new products and is an avid fan of London's fashion, from the high end to the high street.