How to Handle Final Exam Stress -- and Succeed

St. Agnes Academy
Final exams can create tremendous stress for students in high school. Learn how to handle final exam stress in a healthy manner to finish a semester or school year.
The culmination of a semester’s learning through the form of midterms or final exams can be some of the worst days in a student’s school year. These exams prepare students for what they will soon face at the college level in a few short years. When paired with anxiety about other high school experiences, this time period can be strenuous.

We definitely understand that final exam stress can ramp up to new levels during midterms or end-of-year finals. Managing pressure and making healthy choices can help you stay on track. Find out more about how to prepare for success and advance to college with less stress!

Tips for Success During Final Exam Season

Forming a plan, staying confident, and knowing when to reach out for help can make your school year much more enjoyable. Take a look at our guide to final exam season.

1. Identify Stress and Signs of Mental Health Issues

Challenging yourself is healthy, but sometimes, struggling too hard can lead to unhealthy and unproductive stress.

Stress can manifest in several ways, many of which are surprising. Learning to recognize the various signs of stress can help you decide when it’s time to take a break, slow down, or seek out assistance.

Feeling overwhelmed or frazzled is one of the first signs that you might not be managing stress well. Your mind may feel foggy, and you may struggle to answer questions on homework or practice exams. It’s easy to ignore or brush these warning signs off, but they can be a key indicator that your final exam stress is catching up with you.

Trouble sleeping is another sign of a mental health issue. Many students feel tired but have difficulty falling or staying asleep because they’re worrying about their finals.

Others might experience physical symptoms such as blurry vision, muscle aches, or headaches. As stress builds, it can feel more and more challenging to get back under control, but a few relatively simple steps can help you stay healthy through your final exam week.

2. Prepare Ahead of Time

Most students say the stress they feel while preparing for finals stems from worrying about the grades they’ll achieve on those finals. While grades on your finals are important, intense stress can actually decrease your critical thinking skills, leading to lower grades.

The best way to ensure you do well is to prepare ahead and maintain a balanced study plan. Before you start studying, prepare a study schedule, and stick to it. Schedules can help you do just the right amount of work without slacking off or pushing yourself too hard.

You can also join a study group. Like a schedule, study groups can help you balance studying with other aspects of school and daily life. Groups can be fun, and the support you get from peers can help you feel less stressed.

Preparing ahead often helps students feel more confident about their finals. Confident students tend to be less stressed, which leads to better exam results.

3. Ask for Help

Asking for help is hard, but having someone to lean on and talk to can make an incredible difference in your stress levels. Students are encouraged to talk to their parents, teachers, or friends about their hopes, worries, and anything else they need to express.

Remember that parents and teachers have been through similar stress themselves, and they can often offer tips and tricks to reduce anxieties. Friends often face the same stresses, and sharing the experience can help relieve some of the strain.

St. Agnes also offers a wealth of resources for students:

4. Take Time for Yourself

Many students feel they have to study all the time to ace their final exams. It may seem counterintuitive, but sometimes the best way to combat stress during finals and ensure you do well on your tests is to take a step back.

If you start to feel fatigued or experience other symptoms of stress, take some time for yourself. How you unwind is different for everyone. Take a short nap, go for a walk, engage in a soothing creative pursuit such as drawing, talk with a friend, or reread part of your favorite book. Do whatever makes you feel recharged and refreshed.

5. Go Outside or Enjoy Some Exercise

Exercise is one of the most effective ways to manage stress. It helps to distract your mind and release tension through exertion.

You’ll get to spend time with friends or teammates, and if you practice an outdoor sport, you can get some fresh air or soak up some sunshine, which can boost endorphin levels. Exercise can also lead to much better sleeping habits.

Combat Final Exam Stress with Our Helpful Resources

Managing stress in healthy ways can help you stay sharp while enjoying everything your high school years have to offer.

If you could use extra help, don’t hesitate to visit the Academic Support Center for testing tips. You can also talk to us about any final exam stress you are experiencing. It’s a safe place to receive support, prepare for your finals, and be successful!