15 Ways To Cope With A-Level Exam Stress (That Actually Work)

How to cope with A-level stress in 2023
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A-level exams are a big challenge for many students. They can cause a lot of stress and anxiety, which can affect your performance and well-being. But don’t worry, there are ways to cope with A-level stress and ace your exams. 

Statistically, over 75% of students have experienced stress or anxiety over exam changes. In this article, we will share 15 tips to help you manage your stress levels, prepare for your exams, and boost your confidence. 

We will share with you all you need to improve your study habits, find support, and relax your mind. This way, you will no longer need to worry or stress yourself for your A-level exams.

Read on to find out more about how to cope with A-level stress and achieve your academic goals.

What are A-levels?

A-levels, short for “Advanced Level” qualifications, are an essential part of the British education system.

They are important in shaping a student’s academic journey and future career prospects. Here, we’ll break down what A-levels are and why they matter.

1. What Are A-levels?

A-levels are advanced courses usually taken by students in the UK during their last two years of secondary education. Typically at ages 16 to 18.

They offer deeper explanations into specific subjects, allowing students to specialize and gain in-depth knowledge. That is why it is called “Advanced” levels.

2. Subject Variety

One of the fantastic things about A-levels is the wide range of subjects available. You can choose from sciences like Physics, Chemistry, and Biology. You can also choose from humanities like History and English Literature, and even arts subjects like Art and Music. 

This flexibility ensures that you can study what truly interests you which may help reduce A-level stress.

See also: How To Manage Time In Exams

3. Building Blocks for University

A-levels serve as a bridge between secondary education and university. Universities often use A-level results as part of their admission criteria. Good grades in relevant A-levels can open doors to your desired college or degree program.

4. Independent Learning

They encourage independent learning. Unlike the structured curriculum of earlier years, A-level students have more control over their studies. You’ll learn to manage your time, conduct research, and think critically.

See also: Exams Don’t Define You – How to Stand Beyond Exam Setbacks

5. Exams Matter

It is not a new fact that a key feature of A-levels is the emphasis on exams. You’ll take exams at the end of each A-level course, and your final grades are based on these results. So, effective exam preparation is vital.

6. Career Advancement

Also, they can significantly impact your career choices. Depending on your A-level subjects, you can explore various career paths. For example, if you excel in A-level Mathematics, you might consider careers in engineering, finance, or data analysis.

See also: What Happens if You Miss an A-Level Exam?

Common Reasons for Stress During A-Level Exams

It is time we show you the common reasons for A-level exam stress before you learn how to cope with them. They are not limited to:

1. High Expectations

One of the primary reasons for stress during A-levels is the weight of expectations. Students, parents, and teachers often have high hopes for A-level performance, which can create immense pressure.

2. Fear of the Unknown

A-level exams are more challenging than previous exams, and students may feel uncertain about what to expect. This fear of the unknown can trigger anxiety.

3. Heavy Workload

Furthermore, the workload during A-levels can be overwhelming. Juggling multiple subjects, coursework, and revision can lead to stress, especially if time management skills aren’t well-developed.

4. Peer Pressure

Seeing peers excel or hearing about their study routines can make students feel like they need to measure up. This peer pressure can lead to feelings of inadequacy.

5. College or University Aspirations

In addition, A-level results often determine university admissions. The desire to get into a specific college or university can create immense stress, as students worry about their prospects.

See also: Top 10 Toughest Exams in the World 2024

6. Self-Imposed Pressure

The truth is, that some students set unrealistically high standards for themselves. While striving for excellence is admirable, setting unattainable goals can contribute to stress.

7. Revision Overload

Last-minute cramming and excessive revision can lead to burnout. It’s crucial to find a balanced revision schedule that suits individual learning styles.

8. Test Anxiety

Additionally, A-level exams are typically longer and more intense than previous tests. 

9. Lack of Support

Not having a support system in place, such as access to teachers for questions or emotional support from friends and family, can exacerbate stress.

10. Perfectionism

Striving for perfection in every aspect of A-levels can be overwhelming. It’s essential to realize that it’s okay to make mistakes and learn from them.

See also: How to Easily Tackle 11 Plus Exam Revision with Your Child in 2024

What are the Signs and Symptoms of Exam Stress

Experiencing A-level stress is common. Therefore, it’s crucial to recognize the signs of exam stress early on so you can take steps to manage it effectively.

Here are some physical and emotional symptoms to watch out for:

1. Physical Symptoms

  • Headaches

Stress can lead to tension headaches or migraines. If you find yourself reaching for pain relievers more often, stress might be the culprit.

  • Fatigue

Feeling unusually tired, even after a full night’s sleep, can be a sign of stress. Stress can drain your energy.

  • Upset Stomach

Furthermore, stress can upset your digestive system, leading to symptoms like stomachaches, indigestion, or even diarrhoea.

  • Muscle Tension

Stress often causes muscle tension, leading to soreness, especially in your neck, shoulders, and back.

  • Sleep Problems

Difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep is common during stressful times.

2. Emotional Symptoms

  • Anxiety

Persistent worry or anxious thoughts about exams, grades, or the future are classic signs of exam stress.

  • Irritability

Consequently, you may find yourself becoming more irritable or short-tempered than usual.

  • Mood Swings

Mood swings, including sudden bursts of frustration or sadness, can indicate heightened stress levels.

  • Lack of Concentration

Also, stress can make it hard to focus and concentrate on your studies.

  • Self-Doubt

Feeling unsure of your abilities and constantly doubting your preparedness for exams is a common emotional response to stress.

3. Behavioural Signs

  • Procrastination

Putting off studying or other important tasks can be a way of avoiding the stress associated with them.

  • Isolation

Some students withdraw from social activities or isolate themselves when they’re stressed.

  • Changes in Eating Habits

In addition, stress can affect your appetite, leading to overeating or undereating.

  • Nervous Habits

Nail biting, pacing, or other nervous habits may become more pronounced.

See also: How Long Are A-Level Exams?

15 Ways To Cope With A-Level Exam Stress

A-levels can be a challenging time, but don’t let stress overwhelm you. There are effective ways to cope and succeed during this crucial phase of your education. Here are 15 simple and practical strategies to help you manage A-level stress:

1. Have A Massive Revision Session

It might sound strange, but studying a lot at once can make you feel better. This is because being worried about not knowing your stuff can cause a lot of stress.

The more you study, the more you’ll know, and the less stressed you’ll be. Just be careful not to overdo it, as too much studying can make you tired and isn’t the best way to learn.

2. Make a Study Plan You’ll Follow

Keeping your drive and lowering stress is easier with a study plan. It tells you what to study, when, and for how long. You’ll know what you’re aiming for and can take it step by step.

This helps you feel less stressed because you’re reaching goals and studying at the same time. Plus, it can make you more eager to study because you’re not overwhelmed.

3. Eat Well to Solve Problems

This might seem odd, but eating can help some people feel less stressed. Enjoying your favorite foods makes you feel good because it releases dopamine (a happy chemical) in your brain.

Just remember not to eat too much, as it can make you sick or lead to bad eating habits. It’s best to combine eating well with other methods on this list.

See also: 10 Effective Brain Foods for Studying During Exam Season in 2024

4. Spend Time with Loved Ones

Taking a break from studying to hang out with friends or family can help you unwind and tackle stress.

Resting your mind and having fun can make you feel less stressed and even help you study better later. You’ll want to study more because you’ll feel refreshed and ready to go.

5. Find Out What’s Bothering You

There might be a particular exam, subject, or topic in your A-levels that’s causing you worry. It’s important to figure out what that is so you can address it. The more worried you are, the more stressed you’ll feel.

Once you know what’s troubling you, you can start to make it better. Often, it’s not too hard to find out what’s causing the worry.

For example, it could be a topic in Further Maths that you don’t like. With enough studying, you can overcome it. Identify the problem, then work on fixing it.

6. Pinch Yourself to Stop Panic

It might sound odd, but giving yourself a little pinch when you’re feeling worried can help stop the worry over time. It’s like training your brain to think of something else when you start to feel anxious.

7. Take a Nap to Knock Out Stress

Everyone knows this, but a good nap can help with stress. Set aside some time to sleep for a bit, and you’ll wake up feeling better. It’s like hitting the refresh button for your brain.

8. Breathe to Beat Stress

Breathing in a certain way can help calm you down. Try taking deep breaths in through your nose and out through your mouth. Doing this a few times can help clear your mind and make you feel less stressed.

9. Stay Away from Social Media

Social media can be a big distraction and can even make you feel worse about your exams. Try not to compare yourself to others and just focus on your studying. This can help keep the stress away.

10. Clean Your Study Space

Cleaning up where you study can help clear your mind too. It’s like organizing your thoughts while you organize your space. This doesn’t take much time and can help you feel less stressed and more ready to study.

11. Start Good Habits

Little changes can make a big difference. Doing simple things like showering daily, sleeping well, and eating right can help you feel less stressed. These good habits keep you healthy and can also make you want to study more.

See also: When Should You Start Revising For Your A-Levels Exam?

12. Enjoy Your Alone Time

It’s nice to be with others, but sometimes you need time for yourself. Do something fun that you love. This gives your brain a break from studying and helps reduce stress.

13. Get Moving

Physical activity is a great way to distract yourself from exams and feel better. Regular exercise, like once a week or every other day, can lift your spirits and ease your stress about A-levels.

14. Keep Your Eyes on the Prize

Remember why you’re doing all this hard work. This could be for a specific grade or your future plans. You should always remember that focusing on your goals can motivate you to study and help you handle stress better.

15. Don’t Be Hard on Yourself

Feeling stressed is normal, and it’s not your fault. A-levels are tough, and everyone feels the pressure. If you’re not doing as well as you’d like, don’t get down on yourself. More studying will help, and being kind to yourself can make you feel less stressed.

See also: How To Write Fast In Exam: A Quick Guide To Write Faster During Exams

Significance of a Healthy Lifestyle During Exams

When it comes to acing your exams, it’s not just about hitting the books relentlessly. Your overall well-being plays a crucial role. Below are the benefits of adopting a healthy lifestyle during exam periods.

1. Improved Concentration

A healthy lifestyle that includes regular exercise, balanced nutrition, and sufficient sleep enhances your ability to concentrate. This means you can study more effectively and retain information better.

2. Reduced Stress

Also, exams can be stressful, but a healthy lifestyle can help you manage that stress. Exercise releases feel-good endorphins, while proper nutrition provides the nutrients your brain needs to function at its best.

3. Enhanced Memory

Moreover, sleep is essential for memory consolidation. Getting enough rest ensures that the information you’ve learned stays in your brain, ready to be recalled during exams.

4. Increased Energy

Eating nutritious meals and staying hydrated provide a steady source of energy. You won’t experience the energy crashes that come with sugary snacks and caffeine.

5. Optimal Brain Function

A well-balanced diet rich in vitamins, minerals, and omega-3 fatty acids supports optimal brain function. This means improved cognitive abilities and problem-solving skills.

6. Stress Resilience

Furthermore, regular exercise and relaxation techniques, like meditation or deep breathing, boost your stress resilience. You’ll be better equipped to handle exam-related anxiety.

7. Better Time Management

A healthy lifestyle often goes hand in hand with good time management. You’ll find it easier to allocate time for study, leisure, and self-care.

8. Improved Mood

A healthy lifestyle can positively impact your mood, helping you stay positive and motivated throughout your exam preparation.

9. Reduced Illness Risk

When you take care of your physical health, your immune system gets a boost. This means you’re less likely to get sick during exam season.

10. Long-term Benefits

Developing a healthy lifestyle during exams can set the foundation for a lifetime of well-being. 

See also: Can You Get Extra Time For Exams Due To Anxiety in UK?


You need to learn how to cope with the stress that comes with A-levels exams. By following these 15 practical strategies, you can take charge of your stress and boost your chances of success.

Remember, time management, regular breaks, exercise, and a balanced diet are your allies in the battle against stress. These coping techniques not only help you navigate A-level stress but also equip you with valuable life skills.

So, keep your goals in sight, keep a smile on your face, and keep moving forward. You’ve got this, and you’re on your way to achieving those A-levels!

FAQs for How to Cope with A-level Exam Stress

What are some quick stress-relief techniques during A-level exams?

Deep breathing, short walks, and listening to soothing music can provide instant relief.

How can I balance study and relaxation effectively?

Create a study schedule with regular breaks and stick to it. Use relaxation techniques during breaks.

Is it okay to ask for help from teachers or peers when I’m struggling?

Absolutely! Seeking support is a sign of strength and can clarify doubts and reduce stress.

What foods should I include in my diet to support brain function during exams?

Opt for foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids (like salmon), antioxidants (like berries), and whole grains for sustained energy.

How important is sleep during A-level exam preparation?

Vital! Sleep aids memory consolidation and keeps you alert. Aim for 7-9 hours per night for peak performance.



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