Looking after yourself during exams

Foreword: Welfare and Community Officer 2021/22

With exam term underway, it's really important to take care of yourself and know where you can access support if you need it. Our Student Advice Service has produced some great resources, which you can find here: www.cambridgesu.co.uk/exams. These guides cover preparing for exams, what to do if anything goes wrong before or during an exam, and some tips for looking after yourself during Easter Term. If you'd like further advice & support, don't hesitate to contact our amazing team of advisors (https://www.cambridgesu.co.uk/support/advice/contact/) who can talk through issues you're facing in any part of student life, support you in navigating University & college processes and procedures, signpost to welfare support, and more!

Tips on coping with exams from your Sabbatical team

Zak Coleman, President (UG)

I think all the classic advice about trying to take breaks, get outside into fresh air and make sure you see friends are all really useful and important and definitely helped me get through exams. I guess the other thing is that this University does its best to make students feel like exams and grades are the most important, defining part of who they are and sometimes it's helpful to try and take on a 'screw that' attitude, to reconnect with loved ones outside of Cambridge, personal interests not related to your subject and all the other things that make you ‘you’ but have nothing to do with tripos results, although I know that's often easier said than done from inside the bubble.

De-stress before the test

Preparing for exams can be stressful and at times may feel all-consuming. It's important to remember to take breaks and practise self-care alongside your studies to support your physical and mental wellbeing. The Five Ways to Wellbeing may help you consider different ways in which you could take breaks during the exam period. 


Connection is all about feeling valued and close to others. This may mean different things for everyone: connecting to family, friends, partners, animals, or nature. Why not have a go at growing some plants, or look after any houseplants you already own. Check out Cambridge Allotment Society for more details on growing plants and veggies at Cambridge!

Be active

Exercise is great for our physical and mental health. Being active is all about doing what you can. You can also combine slower-paced activities, such as walking with others, to exercise whilst socialising. Try to physically leave your workspace, stretch and move your body at regular intervals.

Take Notice

Taking notice is about trying to be present in the moment. It can be a great way to check-in with yourself and how you are feeling. Try Mindfulness. The University of Cambridge has free mindfulness courses for all students, for more information visit: Mindfulness at Cam | Cambridge students.


Learning doesn’t have to only relate to your academic studies, it also involves being curious and trying new things. You could study with a friend or peer, you can also remind each other to take a break! 


Acts of giving and kindness can help to promote our wellbeing by increasing feelings of self-worth and connection. Give yourself permission to take a break from your studies; cook a meal or make a drink for a housemate. This could help remind them to take a break too!

  • Read more in our Guide to Getting Through Exam here: www.cambridgesu.co.uk/exams
  • Other areas of advice during exams such as illness or reasonable adjustments.

Reasonable adjustments for disabled students

Disabled students who have not already applied for exam arrangements and need to do so, can find information about the process, who to contact and what may be needed for an application, as well as links to further information in our Guide here.

Special circumstances (e.g. illness)

If something unexpected happens on the day of the exam or during the exam, you should seek support. For example, if you are not able to sit the exam, you should contact your College Tutorial Office to let them know you are unwell. If you are unwell during the exam, you should inform the invigilator (if the exam is in person), or the College Tutorial Office if the exam is online. You should also seek medical advice for your benefit and gather supporting evidence if your results are negatively affected. You might need to submit an application to the University to let them know of your situation. You can access further information in our Guide here.

If you are a postgraduate student and something unexpected happens during the assessment period, you should seek support. You should let someone know early - your College Postgraduate Tutor, College Nurse, Supervisor, Course Director, etc. It is also important to obtain medical evidence early. 

Postgraduate Research Students who haven’t been able to access all of their intended materials and/or facilities for their dissertation/coursework due to Covid-19 or the situation in Ukraine can include an Impact Statement when they submit their work. You can access further information in our Guide here.

Have a question or need one-to-one support from a professional Advisor?

You can send us an email with your questions or request an appointment with an Advisor: https://www.cambridgesu.co.uk/support/advice/contact/ 


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