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Exam Stress

Community Member

Hey! So, I feel like I can't talk to anyone about this because when I do they tell me that I'm being dramatic, or that it will be fine so I've come here as a last resort. Even writing this I feel like I am wasting some poor person's time and that they could be doing other interesting things than hearing me whine and if that's you just wanted to apologise - ill try and be quick here. Anyway, that's me! Continuing on, I have exams next week, four essays on two different classes and a really tough math one, all of which are separately under two hours long. I don't know why I'm worried so much, it doesn't matter in the big scheme of things but nevertheless, I find myself here at this very moment with tears falling from my eyes and a racing heartbeat trying to calm myself down. I don't know how to though, I keep telling myself OVER AND OVER again that it doesn't matter but I can stop worrying. I worry that I'm going to try my absolute hardest and get terrible results, or that I haven't studied enough or that even I'm going to fail all my classes and won't be able to graduate in year 11. I know what you're most likely thinking is - well if you study hard enough then you'll be fine but that's just the thing, for the past couple of days that's all I've been doing, so then why doesn't it feel enough? Why am I sitting here in tears feeling like the world is going to end? That may be a little over dramatic but this is honestly what it feels like to be inside my own head. I feel like I'm in this alone. no one understands what it's like to be me. God, I'm so over dramatic, I'm sorry for wasting your time, I do hope whoever reads this has a lovely day and doesn't end up stressed out of their mind like me. Seriously, I hope your day is well, genuinely.

Thank you, from a lonely teenager.

6 Replies 6

Champion Alumni
Champion Alumni

Hi HoneyMilk123,

Wellcome to our forums.

Im sorry you are feeling this way.

I understand that worrying can feel very overwhelming and distressing to the person who is experiencing it.

Overly worrying can also be a symptom of anxiety and when we have anxiety it can be hard to turn this symptom off, sometimes it feels very loud.

This is no fault of your own it’s something that our bodies can do.

The good news is that you can learn to manage your anxiety.

Have you been able to discuss with your parents about the way you are feeling?

You could make an appointment with your gp and discuss how you are feeling and how anxiety is affecting your life.

Your gp may be able to refer you to a psychologist who can give you many strategies for anxiety.

Your not alone, many people experience this.

Community Member

I'm 36 and have a undergraduate and postgraduate degree and I still remember how hard exam time was. Particularly in year 11 and 12. Before one of my HSC exams in year 12, I decided I couldn't do it and tried to make myself sick by putting milk out to go off. Luckily my parents calmed me down and I forgot that attempt. For years I said it was the hardest thing ever.

I would talk about the stress to my parents but all they would say is "you will be fine, you always go well". That wasn't enough. Every exam was the one time I was going to fail and ruin everything. Past success didn't predict future achievement in my eyes.

Looking back, they were right. I always did ok, if I put the work in. I knew more than I thought I did. Sometimes the 'work' was crash studying and learning the whole subject within a week. It still worked out. Even if it doesn't work out, time and life experience has taught me that high school really isn't everything. You can get into University through other paths. You also may not want to go to Uni. There are lots of good jobs that only require a vocational degree.

Dear HoneyMilk123,
Welcome to the forums we are so glad that you found your way to this supportive and welcoming community. We hope that you find ideas, options and support from the shared experiences and knowledge of all our members.
We can see that you have already received some great support from our lovely community and just wanted to reach out and say that if the stress is becoming overwhelming, please consider contacting Beyond Blue or Kids helpline to have a chat to a counsellor and hopefully alleviate some of your concerns.
So  if you feel the need to talk about this or any issue our counsellors are available 24/7, you can contact Beyond Blue either via phone 1300 22 4636 or web chat: http://www.beyondblue.org.au/get-support/get-immediate-support
If you have not engaged with them before we would also recommend Kids helpline on 1800 55 1800 or at https://kidshelpline.com.au/ . This service is available to anyone 25 years old and under.
Feel free to express yourself and your concerns openly and without fear of judgement as this is a safe space. Once again, we are so glad you have joined the forums and we hope that you feel welcomed into the community. 
Warm regards
Sophie M

Valued Contributor
Valued Contributor

Hi HoneyMilk123

I honestly don't think you're being over dramatic or wasting anyone's time. Sounds like you're a very feeling person who's feeling the insane levels of pressure and stress of school. So, you could say you're a sane person feeling what's insane (you're feeling the way the system's set up). That's not your fault if you can feel that.

As 'Mum' to a guy who's trying to manage year 11, he and I have discussed the partial insanity of the Australian education system. We've discussed him not taking it personally, while managing it to the best of his ability and developing strategies for coping with it. With him just having completed year 11 mid year exams, we discussed the idea that he gets 3 practice runs before year 12 end of year exams - the one just completed, the ones at the end of this year and the year 12 mid year ones. So, 3 shots at perfecting things, to the best of his ability. Some other factors we've discussed which have helped put things into better perspective, so he's not beating himself up so much

  • The way some exams are designed to not give students enough time to complete and/or the way exams include work that hasn't actually been studied in class. Insane stuff, that's for sure
  • The lack of stress management in the lead up to exams. While there may be some basic degree of management given, sometimes it's not enough. Researching other strategies can be a must at times. How to manage internal dialogue under pressure and how to help better regulate your nervous system are just a couple of examples of extra forms of management
  • Is there a need for a co-worker (a tutor) to help better understand what's being taught? Not all teachers teach a subject in completely relatable ways, which increases the struggle to learn. Is there a need for an overall restructuring of study strategies with the help of someone who's a student organiser. We've actually employed someone for this
  • Being able to honestly assess whether a change of subjects is the best call at some point. My son's just dropped studying Japanese, as it's become incredibly time consuming, while being quite a struggle. Now taking on an easier subject, this has freed up time for homework in chemistry, biology, math etc. Now there's less stress

I think, when people brush our feelings aside with simple comments like 'You're being over dramatic', they not only dismiss the level of the drama we're feeling, they're also brushing aside our desperate need to manage in better ways.

Champion Alumni
Champion Alumni

Hey HoneyMilk123, 


I’m sorry to hear that you are struggling at the moment. Exams are a very stressful time so I completely understand how you are feeling right now. It is completely valid and you are not wasting anyone’s time by sharing. I’m sure there are a number of students on these forums who are feeling the same kind of things that you are so beginning this discussion can help them out too! 


As for the stress, I think that school put an immense amount of pressure on their students to do well rather than making exams accessible to all. Regardless of how hard you might study, there are still going to be people who will struggle with the exams based truly on the time constraints, format which its delivered, the environment that you do them in etc. When you think about it, the people that might do well are the ones that aren’t just prepared content wise, but those that are mental prepared to be in the exam environment. I think trying to learn how to navigate under these conditions so that you are not overwhelmed when you have to actually do it could be helpful. Do you have any teachers/counsellors at school that you could talk this through with? It could even be helpful to talk to your parents and organise getting some support form a mental health professional to learn how to cope. There’s nothing wrong with getting support at all and it’s not “dramatic” or “unnecessary”, especially when it is causing you so much stress. Please don’t think you are being over dramatic as you are not. The learning environment is always changing and trying to learn through out a pandemic is no walk in the park either. So you should be proud of how far you have come!


I also just want to reiterate how important it is to do things outside of studying to ensure that you are staying psychically and mentally well. Do you have any hobbies or activities that you do that makes you happy? It could be reading, going for a walk, catching up friends or hanging out with family, watching a movie etc. It’s really important you take a break occasionally and reset your mind as that might help you cope better. Finding a good balance between leisure and study can be a great thing! 


I truly hope that you can find some comfort in this forum post and get through your exams. You have the support of all of us here and we believe in you 🙂 

That Other Guy
Community Member

I can see you got some replies and I assume your exams are over (hope they went well?)


I just want to add, your feelings are always valid, you're never a waste of time and you're never silly for the way you feel.  We're all human.  The trick is to find ways to get support when we need it, and I hope youre doing ok now