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Confronting the 10 Stages of Exam Stress (in GIFs)

Written by Christine Rees
how to deal with exam stress

Quick, hide under the blankets! It’s nearly here—the exam stress is coming!

Exam stress is to be expected during exam season. How could it possibly be avoided? We are under pressure to remember EVERYTHING WE POSSIBLY CAN about a subject in order to earn a passing grade (deep breaths people, it will be fine). Exam stress is something we all relate to because we’ve been there. We faced all of its horrible stages: crying, procrastination, freakouts, regret and everything in between.

How to deal with that exam stress? Let’s confront all the fun stages with GIFs!

1. The Guilties

guilty as charged

Everyone else is studying and this is something we should be doing too, but we don’t want to. So, maybe we’ll just think about doing it later…?

2. Procrastination

procrastination, exam stress

It’s not like the exam is tomorrow. We have time, so why stress about committing to it now?

3. Regret

parks & rec "Oh this is bad"

Of course, once we start procrastinating, we usually regret it because suddenly we are far less prepared than we thought we would be at this point. Additionally, this makes our next study session that much harder to commit to because there will be more work involved.

4. Punishment

The Breakfast Club, "Why'd You Do That?"

And now that we’ve been procrastinating, we begin punishing ourselves for it rather than studying. Great job, friends.

5. Bargaining

New Girl, "Help Me!"

Basically, if we can get a 75% or higher we’ll be fine… OR maybe someone else can take the test for us. No, that would take too much work to set up, also we have morals. Okay, what happens to our final grade if we get a 60%?

6. Realization Strikes


Yes! We know this stuff! It will be easy. No, wait this is new. Why is this new? We have to relearn all of this. Crap, crap, crap, crap. Did we cover this in class? Will this be on the exam? We’re in so much trouble.

7. Hopelessness

Patrick Star Giving Up

We’ve done the best we can with the brain we have. If we don’t pass, we give up.

8. Cold Panic

Kermit the Frog biting nails

Now we’re standing outside the exam room with other nervous students. (Of course, for 2021, it’s more like, sitting anxiously in our room—is that better or worse?) What if we forget everything we spent forever studying and there are things on the test we didn’t cover? Or what if we’re too dumb for a passing grade? What if… what if… we just want this to be OVER.

9. Exam

squirrel breathing heavy

We stare down at the first page, muscles growing stiff as we completely FREEZE UP until finally, we see something we recognize. Aha! We can answer that one. 

10. Acceptance

tossing papers in the air

Well, we tried our best. It’s all over now. Oh, wait. That means it’s DONE like it’s actually done. Can we get champagne this early? 

READ MORE: 8 Coping Mechanisms to Deal With Exam Stress

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