The University Counselling Service

Exams getting to you?

Can't sleep?

Can't concentrate?

Starting to panic?

Sitting for hours in the library not taking much in?

Just when it really matters, and you want to do your best, it all starts to go wrong.

We can help



Exam Toolkit



Why do exams make people feel so bad?
An exam is a way of assessing knowledge, understanding and skill in a particular subject. It is an attempt to standardise and measure ability in this area. What it can’t be is an absolute judgement on someone’s personal worth. But it can feel like that, especially if you value your own worth solely by your achievements.

So if you think:
  • I’m going to fail,  or
  • I’m not going to do as well as I should

You might also think:
  • I’ll never get a good job
  • Other people will think I am lazy or stupid
  • My family will think badly of me
Then it won’t be surprising if you start to feel anxious.
What is anxiety?
Anxiety is our natural response to threat or sense of emergency.

When we feel under threat, our bodies go into a ‘fight or flight’ response. We become prepared to fight or to run away.

The main bodily change is the release of adrenaline and cortisol which gives us the surge of energy to act.
What happens when there is too much anxiety?
At times of high anxiety you may experience problems with sleep, short and long-term memory, the capacity to learn, concentrate and focus. Other changes you might notice are:

  • Increased muscle tension
  • Increased heart rate
  • Increased breathing rate
  • Increase in alertness to the slightest touch or sound
Does anxiety have any good points?
A moderate amount of anxiety may not be a bad thing. It can sharpen concentration and performance and help to create the extra energy and focus to keep studying, when you might prefer to be doing something else.

But - too much anxiety can be overwhelming and stop you from being able to study and get on with life in a satisfying way.



University Counselling Service

The Orchards
University Park
Nottingham, NG7 2RD

telephone: +44 (0)115 951 3695

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