Dear Ethel | Issue 24

Dear Ethel | Issue 24

Exams goddamn

Dear Ethel,

I am super stressed out. What if I fail my exams? I haven’t done so well this year so I seriously have to pass everything. Can’t eat, can’t sleep… what can I do?

Pass or pass out


Breathe! You have time and if you take it steady, you are likely to succeed. You really do need to eat. Fuel for the body and mind is vital, especially during stressful times. Eat plenty of fresh fruit and veg, and a good variety of carbs and proteins. Make a bit of an occasion of cooking a decent meal, cook a flat dinner, or take advantage of the meals provided if you’re in a residential college. 

Student Learning Centre have some great tips on their website for planning, studying, and maximising your success in exams. Check them out at or drop in and see them in person. Studying with someone can help in terms of keeping motivated and with your learning. 

Set yourself a realistic timetable for studying, paying particular attention to the papers that are worth more or you feel less confident in. 

Get regular exercise too. Go for a run, get on your bike, or take advantage of the cheap and free exercise classes that come up closer to exam period. Increasing the flow of oxygen is good for the body and mind and those lovely post-exercise endorphins combat stress and low mood. If you drink, keep your alcohol intake low. That will help with staying positive, sleeping better and, of course, not having a hangover!

Make sure you schedule some time for social stuff too, whether that’s a Mr Robot fest with your bestie or a day away with the tramping club. Taking a break and a change of scenery helps keep perspective so you don’t get overwhelmed by academic pressures.

You are welcome to drop in and chat to an advocate at OUSA Student Support. They’ve been there and they can help you work out what might be useful for you. If there’s anything else causing you extra stress, they may be able to help with that too. If they can’t, they will probably know who can.

Breathe, eat, exercise, relax, have a schedule that is achievable, and get some extra support if you need it. We believe in you! 

Whole lotta love, 

-Ethel xox

This article first appeared in Issue 24, 2016.
Posted 11:45am Saturday 24th September 2016 by Student Support.