With exams just a couple weeks away, it’s natural to start feeling a bit nervous about this final ‘assignment’. There are a few strategies for calming those nerves before you sit the exam.

1. Start studying early.

One of the leading causes of nerves before exams is the fear you haven’t studied enough. To ward off this feeling, start revising your notes and potential questions now, instead of waiting till SWOTVAC. This doesn’t mean that you need to read everything: rather, pick a couple topics you find more challenging and skim through your notes each day. You don’t need to spend a lot of time doing this either, as the point is to start exercising that study ‘muscle’ and create ease by knowing you’re already working towards your exams.

2. Get a study buddy.

Besides starting to study early, consider finding a friend or two to study with. Group study sessions are useful for brainstorming potential questions, and quizzing each other. They’re also useful for hearing what others think is important in your course material: when you come together to study, you increase the potential for catching topics you may have missed.

3. Make an exam study timetable.

Once you know when your exams will be, plot them into a calendar so you can work out when and how much to study. Doing so will eliminate the stress of wondering when you should start studying, and will set out what you will study, for each course, each day. When considering how much time to devote to each course, be sure to consider how much the exam is worth: an exam worth 50% of your grade will require more study time than an exam worth 10%. Check our the Library’s Research and Learning Online for more on creating an exam study timetable, and other useful exam study tips.

4. Take time for yourself.

While you may have multiple exams to prepare for, it’s important to take time for yourself. Doing something you enjoy, like catching up with friends, seeing a movie, or heading to the gym will help you relax and ‘recharge’ after your study sessions. You can work these ‘breaks’ into your exam study timetable.

Part of taking time for yourself should also include getting enough sleep, ensuring you eat well and exercising. Keeping your body healthy will in turn keep your mind sharp.

Exercise is a word a lot of people don’t like, but exercise is actually a really great way to calm your nerves. Movement – whether vigorous (like running) or gentle (such as walking) – helps to dispel nervous tension. Try to work in some kind of movement each day to keep your nervous energies at bay.

5. Be mindful. 

It’s all the hype these days, but mindfulness is a good way of settling your nerves and addressing your feelings. It doesn’t take much time, and can be done anywhere, which makes it a great study break activity. Monash University has a suite of resources – including apps and videos – on mindfulness here.

While all of these are good ways to deal with exam jitters, sometimes we need some extra support. Monash’s Health Services offer counselling sessions at our four major campuses (Clayton, Caulfield, Parkville, Peninsula) and online.


Dr Stephanie Jury is a Learning Skills Adviser at the Pharmacy Library, Parkville campus.