The five stages you go through in the lead up to exams

May 05, 2017
Article Promo Image

Exams are on the horizon for many of us, and although it might seem like you have heaps of time now, I can guarantee you’ll be going through these stages of pre-exam stress in the weeks leading up to crunch time. So feast your eyes upon your future!

Everything’s chill

“Pfft, exams are like a month away! We don’t have to study yet, right? Right?” This is the first stage of the inevitable pre-exam freak out. You’ve likely just submitted all your assignments for the semester and you’re feeling a sense of euphoric freedom. You have free time to spend, new TV series to watch and exams are ages away…or are they?

It’s easy to forget how quickly exams sneak up on you in the few weeks to come but trust me, when everyone around you is locking themselves in their rooms and working away, the peaceful, oblivious stage will pass and you’ll go in to the next phase of…


“Wait, what? Exams are in two weeks? Why didn’t anyone tell me?!” This is the horrible stage of realising you’ve probably ruined your life and future by not studying when everybody told you to.

Instead of using the already limited time you have to study, you live in a constant state of denial and most likely fall into the deep and dark void of procrastination from which you don’t emerge for a number of days. But even as you’re watching Netflix or going to brunch with your friends you have that constant feeling of guilt and stress. And deep down, you know you should probs start cramming. *Continues to watch Netflix*.

The downward spiral

You finally muster the courage to sit at your desk and open a textbook. You realise now that there is so much information you need to cover and you have no clue what you’re reading most of the time. Try as you might, you fall into the depression stage of exams. Symptoms include buying multiple cups of coffee per day, excessive crying and loss of concentration to dog memes. You’ll be thinking “What’s the point? I’m going to fail anyway.” But if you can push through this stage you’ll get to the second last stage that is…


You’ve re-emerged from your cocoon of despair as a beautiful butterfly with a fresh sense of determination to ace your exams. You’ve turned off social media, you’ve colour coded your pens, you’ve finally changed out of your pyjamas and you’re ready to cram all day long. Breaks? You know damn well that you don’t deserve study breaks! The next few days you’ll be living off microwave food and knowledge. You got this!

Reluctant acceptance

The exam is tomorrow. You’ve read the material and studied the best you can. You accept that whatever happens tomorrow happens. Could you have started studying sooner? Yes. Do you think you’ve given this your 100 per cent best efforts? Probs not. But the point is you’ve done what you can with the limited time, and regardless of how it goes, at the end of tomorrow it will all be over and you’ll be able to start living your life again…until the next exam that is.

Sophie Nicolas

Sophie is studying a Bachelor of Arts in creative writing. She is an aspiring writer, dog enthusiast and thrift shop fashion icon.

Image: Giphy