How Can Time Management Reduce Exam Stress?

by | Jun 8, 2023 | 0 comments

The two questions I get asked most often are:

  1. How can I study more effectively, and
  2. How can time management reduce my exam stress.

In this blog post, I am going to look at ways that effective time management can help alleviate exam stress. Many students ask me, how many hours should I spend studying? It is not about the quantity of hours you spend studying but the quality of study you do during those hours. When I was student, I could have spent 8-10 hours a day studying. On reflection, that was not time well spent. If I am being honest with myself, of the 8-10 hours a day I spent studying, only 2-3 hours were focused, productive study. The rest was time wasting.

The benefits of improving your time management for study include:

  • Reducing your stress levels
  • Increasing your productivity and focus
  • Achieving a balance between study, exams, and your personal life (friends and family)
  • Increasing your feelings of control, motivation, and confidence


Create a Study Schedule

The first step is to get into the habit of creating a study schedule and a regular study routine. Have a look at my blog post, “How do I create a study plan or study schedule”. This will help you with this task.

Once you have your plan started, there are other things you should consider helping manage your time more effectively.

Play to your natural rhythm.

There will be times in the day where you are more focused. For example, you might have more energy and feel more focused first thing in the morning, or you might feel more focused at night-time. Where it is available to you, play to your natural rhythm and study when you have good energy levels.

Schedule productive deep breaks

When creating your study schedule, be sure to factor in rest and breaks. I suggest after 1.5 hours of study, take a 10–15-minute rest. To ensure your brain gets a break, try not to spend your break on your device. A deep break can include going for a walk around the block or a walk-in nature, sitting in silence, reading a chapter of a book (not exam related) or do a short yoga session or some meditation.

Schedule time to test yourself.

As part of your study schedule, ensure to have some time scheduled to test yourself on what you have learned. For example, practice past exam questions or past papers under the time allowed in the exam. Firstly, this will give you a great understanding of what you know and don’t know. In addition, it will also give you an understanding whether time management might be an issue for you in the exam itself.

If you find that for a past paper where you have one hour to answer the paper, but at home it is taking you at least 1.5 hours to answer, this could suggest that time management might be an issue for you. There may be many reasons for this such as, you might spend too long planning, you might not know the topic very well or you might be a little slower at writing. Regardless of the reason, by scheduling time to practice past exam questions and past papers, it will give you valuable information about what is working well for and what you need to improve upon.

Managing Distractions

In the age of social media, the most effective time management tip I can give you is to manage your distractions. There is no doubt that our devices are the single biggest distraction we have when it comes to study. If you were to reflect on your last study session, how many times were your distracted by notifications, emails, and news alerts?

According to Peter Drucker the average person gets interrupted every 9 minutes and consequently it takes 3 and a half time longer to complete a task.

While our brains are sophisticated organs, it finds it very difficult to switch from scrolling on our phones to go back into a focused study mode.

To help support yourself with better time management, take some time to reflect on the following questions:

  • What are your biggest distraction downfalls?
  • How does it get your way?
  • What are the benefits of overcoming this distraction downfall?
  • How could you add friction to your distraction to make it less appealing and harder to access?

Swallow the Frog!

There is no doubt there will be subjects or topics on a course that you prefer and tend to study more of. The tasks that you find more difficult, you might tend to avoid or leave them to the end of you study period. This can cause stress as you study.

Your subconscious brain will be thinking about that complicated task or subject you need to do. As a result, you might find it difficult to focus on the other tasks at hand.

If this is the case for you, to manage your time more effectively, swallow the frog! In other words, do the difficult task or subject first and leave your favourite subject to the end of your study session. In a sense you might “look forward” to studying that topic at the end of your session. So rather than dreading studying your least favourite topic, do it first and get it over and done with. This will help alleviate stress as you study.

Break it down!

If you find a subject or a topic over whelming, break it down or use the pomodoro technique. This means work for 25 minutes on the subject and take a 5-minute break. If you can then, work for another 25 minutes and take a break. This can help reduce stress and makes a task seem more doable if you only work on it for 25 minutes.


So, there you have it, my top time management tips to help reduce exam stress! Remember, spend time planning your study, play to your natural rhythm, test yourself, manage your distractions and swallow the frog.

If you need any further support, please do reach out to me. You can schedule a free 30-minute chemistry call through my website.