How to Cope with Exam Stress


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If you are dealing with stress and feeling overwhelmed in the process of writing your matric exams, SHAWCO has some useful advice on how you can cope and deal with it.



Anxiety and stress can be a big part of a student's life during crucial times in their academic career. This is more likely to be the case with some matriculants as the 2021 final matric exams get underway until 7 December 2021. 

Exam stress doesn't go away when you are writing exams at college or varsity either.

With this in mind, Careers Portal sat for an interview with Palesa Msomi, BSc Astrophysics and Mathematics student at the University of Cape Town. 

Palesa is also one of the leaders of SHAWCO, a student health and welfare organisation. They run several mental health based programs in disadvantaged communities.

As part of the Education division of their program, the student-led, non-profit organization also focuses on mental health issues among learners. These are some of the tips that she has for learners who may find it difficult to cope throughout the course of this exam period.

She says that although a certain level of stress may be necessary for awareness of one’s priorities, students should avoid allowing their stress levels to reach a tipping point or negative stress - sometimes referred to as distress. 

She adds that students can do this by paying close attention to when their stress levels start to physically present themselves in certain parts of their bodies.

There are different places in your body where your body will alert you that you are feeling distressed. We need to listen to those warning signs. These can include headaches, tummy aches, muscle tension and sometimes sweating excessively.  

Msomi also points out that carefully evaluating things that are within your control is equally important in coping with stress. These include your thoughts, mindset as well as your behaviour.

She further states that a student's ability to distinguish between positive and negative coping mechanisms can also serve as an advantage in managing their stress levels. 

Some examples of negative coping mechanisms according to Msomi can include alcohol and drug abuse as well as binge eating. 

She says that although these also relieve the stress they can also be addictive and reduce your mental capacity to focus on studying for your next exam, resulting in more stress. 

Useful positive coping mechanisms that students can consider adapting include taking up different types of routine exercises, getting enough sleep, music and calming yourself by taking deep breaths when feeling anxious.  

She also advises students to prioritize their mental health before it forces them to do so in a negative way. Additionally, students should not be in fear of reaching out to mental health organisations when they are feeling like they are unable to cope with stress.

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Post-Matric Options


After completing your matric certificate exams, you are faced with a multitude of post-matric options that can shape your future paths.

These options range from pursuing higher education at universities or colleges, entering vocational training programs, joining the workforce, or even considering entrepreneurial ventures, each offering unique opportunities for personal and professional growth.

You've probably been contemplating the next chapter of your life all throughout the year asking yourself, 'what am I going to study after I finish completing my matric certificate exams?', 'am I going to study? What else can I do when I pass'? Well, we can help.


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