The five stages of exam stress

June 03, 2016
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Let’s not beat around the bush, the exam season is not fun. It may start with positive thoughts and it will feel so good when it’s over, but the truth is that the middle bit is just so cruel. It’s not just frustrating, it’s sleep depriving, it induces serious binge-eating and you inevitably end up guilt ridden because one episode miraculously turned into a season.

So here we go – these are the five stages of exam stress and may the odds be ever in your favour *Hunger Games whistle*.

Stage one: The action film montage before the big fight

That epic montage you see in films like Guardian of the Galaxy and Deadpool where they grab all their guns, get into gear and pump themselves up with the glorious ‘I’m about to go kick some ass’ music – this is exactly how you will feel. Except instead of guns it’s your revision notes, instead of gear it’s your sweatpants and instead of that kickass music, it’s just your lecture recordings.

It’s going to be a wild night for you.

Stage two: Britney Spears circa 2007

Three slow days of studying go by and you’re holed up in your room. Darkness has become your friend and you can’t remember when you last took a shower – did you take one last night or was that just a beautiful faraway dream?

Absolutely nothing makes sense anymore and it all sort of just blends into each other to form one mammoth pile of shit. And then it all becomes too much when the smallest thing pushes you over the edge. And by the smallest thing, I mean someone ate my f@$%ing Oreos.

Long story short, you lose your shit.

Stage three: GODZILLA!!!

No one is safe in your wake, especially when they’re reminding you for the billionth time that everything will be over soon. Because you are fine, just a little, tiny bit stressed.  And it won’t be over soon because SOON IS NOT NOW.

*Heavy breathing*.

Stage four: Kim K when she lost her diamond earring in the ocean

You’ve calmed down and you’re feeling 10/10 OK after blowing off all that steam. It’s the night before the exam and you’re just going to chill because any more study is going to make you implode. It’s just you and your bed tonight as you need sleep ASAP.

But of course your subconscious gives you a wide selection of scenarios that will keep you awake. Inevitably they all end in your impending failure due to your lack of proper study, which of course leads to unemployment and a gradual decline into the 40-Year-Old-Virgin.

Cue the overdramatic sobbing and partial drowning in tears.


It’s that moment during reading time when you cackle internally because you know you are absolutely screwed for this exam. But somehow graced by the exam Gods, you feel the sudden rush of adrenaline that blocks everything out. That blessed feeling that gets you crouched over your desk, writing furiously because you might just have a chance at that D or even a HD.

It may only last a minute or maybe an hour but it gets the job done because it’s now or never and after all this stressful savagery, you’re at least going to try and make it count.

So, best of luck folks, I’m sure we’ll all make it out alive.

Steffanie Tan

Steffanie is studying a Bachelor of Journalism at Monash University.

Image: Ashley Campbell, Flickr Creative Commons license