Stress is Natural: ACE Advice For Coping With Your Final HSC Exam Stress And Not Overdoing It

It’s easier said than done when others tell you to calm down right before your final HSC exam. In reality, when the chips are down, what they really mean to say is, all that matters is that you have done your best and what will be will be. However, overly stressed students have a knack of letting their stress get the better of them on exam day and that often can lead to doubts of preparedness and overthinking the exam questions.

At ACE HSC Tuition, we are invested in you and your future and want every student to get through this upcoming exam period without any regrets. So, let’s take a look at some stress stats, guides to asking for help and tips to de-stress in time for the big day. 

What We Know about Pre-Exam Stress

In August this year, ReachOut Australia, an organisation dedicated to improving mental health in Australia’s youth, surveyed over 1,000 young people aged 16-25 going into their high school and university exams. Their research found that 88% of students had felt stressed about studying at some point over the previous 12 months. They determined that study stress was affecting their motivation (61%), mood (56%) and sleeping habits (51%). A recurring concern for students was not being able to live the life they had planned (46%), closely followed by worrying about how they would compare with other students (43%).

These are perfectly natural responses to exam stress and we can assure you that many generations before have felt the same way and have gotten through it. Just ask your teacher and tutors. 

Asking For Study Help During The Break

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Before parting for the pre-exam break, your teachers will have provided a plan for contacting them for questions about exam conditions, rules and requirements and sourcing practise exam papers. Applications such as Google Classroom allow teachers to set up private online rooms to study with your peers and compare notes, while also allowing them the allotted time to sign in and support you during the break. Your tutors will also set up similar resources to help you with your exams.

While your teachers and tutors are helping you during this period, it’s important to remember that while they are there for you, they also have a life outside of the classroom. Being DM’d on social media or stopped at the local shopping centre is not always convenient; it is actually not very good manners. Check with them before the break begins what is an acceptable way to communicate, just in case.

Tips For Staying Cool And Alert During The Exam


There are many things you can do to get into the zone on exam day, such as toning down your study routine in the days before the exam. Increased cortisol levels leading up to the exam, combined with the anticipated boost in levels on the big day, are not good for anyone.

Do your best to maintain a balanced diet and outside activities in the sun. That saying “get it out of your system” is a good mantra to follow, as activities like running, swimming and going to the gym have proven to help reduce mental stress caused by frustration and let you “work” it all out in a healthy way.

Introduce some relaxation techniques like quiet mind exercises and meditation; that way, you can go to the exam with a clear mind and sharp focus. Also, to keep focused and alert, try going to bed early and at the same time every day for regular REM sleep cycles and reduce fatigue by maintaining your melatonin levels.


Add in some mood stablising activities like hobbies and a reliable movie or good book that are guaranteed to put you in a good mood. Laughter from a good comedy is a great way to stabilise your mood, just like seeing good friends you haven’t seen in a while.

It’s best to tone down the energy drinks and caffeine, as during high-stress moments they can actually have the opposite effect and cause a caffeine crash (fatigue) or unintended hyperactivity (reduced attention span). Instead, switch to non-caffeinated herbal teas like peppermint, camomile, lavender and ginseng, as it has been proven that your gut health and cortisol levels are linked. Just don’t overdo it on the day, or you might need a few more bathroom breaks than expected.


Coconut water is a great cortisol reducer as it contains healing vitamins and constituents like riboflavin, thiamine, niacin, vitamin C, potassium, magnesium and pathogenic acid that are known to relieve stress, lower depression and perk up your mood. Ever wondered why Pacific Islanders are almost always calm and laid back? The answer might just be the water.

So there you have it, some good tips for coping with pre-exam stress and how to prep for the big day. For more helpful tips on exam prep and study strategies, follow our blog.

Do You Need A Tutor? 

If your HSC exam study and prep are stressing you and you need support, reach out to the team at ACE HSC Tuition and find out more about our available courses and tutors to help you get back on track and reduce your exam anxiety.
Contact us to find a local tutor near you for all Year 11 & 12 HSC exam courses.

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