Dealing with exam pressure

Let me just put it out there: I loved school. I know that may make me a little odd but there you go. I loved school so much that I even wanted to be a teacher – I never wanted to leave!

I was good at quite a lot of my subjects, but that didn’t mean I was immune to feeling the pressure every time exams came around.

There were a few ways that I dealt with that dreaded ‘exam pressure’:

  • I sunbathed and pretended the exams weren’t real. (Spoiler: they were!)
  • I invited friends round in the hope that we would motivate each other to study – but we always managed to go off on a tangent!
  • I overwhelmed myself with colour co-ordinated and organised folders for every subject, module and theory.

Does any of that sound familiar?

It took me a long time to work out how I learnt best and to get the most out of revision (it turns out I’m a kinaesthetic learner – I learn through actions…try doing that in an exam room without looking like a weirdo!) I’d tried a lot of revision techniques before I found ‘the one’ and even then I still had to shake it up sometimes to keep me focussed. And even though I was becoming more productive, it doesn’t mean that the pressure went away entirely (or that I stopped crying to my Mum about it!)

But why did I feel that exam pressure quite so much? Looking back I think it all boiled down to one thing. I was scared to fail.

Now that I’m a bit older I still face tests and challenges and sometimes I still feel under pressure and scared of failure. But often that doesn’t last because now I know something bigger and better. I know that I don’t have to be scared of failing because God loves me unconditionally – that means that it doesn’t matter what happens, whether I fail or do well or embarrass myself in an exam – God loves me anyway.

It says in the Bible ‘Long before he laid down earth’s foundations, [God] had us in mind, had settled on us as the focus of his love, to be made whole and holy by his love.’ (Ephesians 1:4, MSG) So now when big things come and threaten me I hold on to the fact that God loves me no matter what – and that’s bigger than any fear or failure that I’ll ever face.

Written by Charlotte Hendy

Charlotte is The Esther Collective project leader for
Girls’ Brigade Ministries. Originally from Plymouth,
she studied Theology at Oxford and now lives in Sheffield.
Charlotte suffers from seaside withdrawal symptoms
and dreams of one day owning a house by the sea!

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