Stress And Fatigue Top Students’ Concerns About Exam Time

Students across the country are gearing up for year-end exams and standardized tests, in addition to meeting class deadlines and heavy homework loads. Unfortunately, increased pressure for good grades has many students taking the wrong approach when it comes to exam time preparation.

According to a survey conducted by The Princeton Review and Wrigley, more than 85 percent of students admit to feeling increased stress and tension at exam time, in many cases leading them to make less healthy choices.

Under Pressure

Although experiencing a little stress can keep students on their toes, choosing poor stress management techniques can ultimately work against their academic goals. The recent survey revealed students are dealing with exam time pressures by snacking during study time (76 percent), studying with a caffeine buzz (61 percent) and burning the midnight oil (41 percent). The survey also revealed, however, that some students are finding ways to meet the challenges of studying for test time, such as listening to classical music (20 percent) and even chewing gum (37 percent). Of the students who chew gum while studying for exams, 41 percent do so to combat stress and tension and 23 percent to increase focus and concentration.

In fact, studies have shown that the act of chewing gum increases blood flow to the brain by 25 percent and appears to improve people’s ability to retain and retrieve information.

“Chewing gum while performing memory tests can increase memory substantially,” says Andrew Scholey, Ph.D., CPsychol, professor, Division of Psychology, and director, Human Cognitive Neuroscience Unit, University of Northumbria, UK.


Study experts at The Princeton Review recommend a few simple tips to help parents and students deal with test-time stress.

• Exercise: Exercise can be an excellent way to recharge batteries and reduce stress around exam time.

• Care packages: There’s nothing like a care package from parents to lighten students’ stress and let them know they are rooting for them. Include items such as stress toys, a classical music CD and healthy snacks such as nuts, chewing gum or dried fruit.

• Create a calming and productive atmosphere: An effective study area should have good lighting and ventilation, a comfortable chair and space large enough to spread out materials.

• Chew gum: The gum experts at Wrigley recommend chewing gum to relieve stress and tension and to help increase focus and concentration during studying and test-taking.


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* Dr. Julia Sperling, a McKinsey Partner and neuroscientist debunks ‘neuromyths’ that have found their way into how we think about learning and leadership development.

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