Stressed by exams? Lay off the Red Bull

If you're feeling stressed with exams looming, don't - worry you're meant to be, according to one expert.

NCEA exams kick off for pupils across New Zealand on Thursday. Education consultant Jordan Murphy of StudyTime says a recent survey showed two-thirds of teenagers find this time of year a big challenge, feeling stressed isn't necessarily a bad thing.

"It's our body's response to a challenge, and it's good that we want to apply ourselves and we care about it," he told The AM Show on Thursday morning.

"There's an awesome quote from Prof Schwartz of Stanford: stress is like the engine, but it's our mind's that's the steering wheel. We can use stress as a motivator. It's only when it becomes debilitating that it becomes a problem."

To stop that happening, he says the best thing to do is write down what's bugging you.

"It sounds kind of weird writing your anxious thoughts down - wouldn't that make it more real? But they found it actually stops it circling your mind. You can just look at all the anxious thoughts and go, 'Nah - I'm gonna smash it.'"

The number one thing you should avoid? Cramming.

"We probably should not be pulling an all-nighter fuelled by Red Bull, waking up at midnight and going until 4am - not the best thing we can do.

"That's just going to stress us out even more. We're probably not going to be able to recall information in an exam off two hours' sleep."

There are 119 NCEA exams this year, with the first - drama - beginning at 9:30am on Thursday. The last - Spanish, German and Japanese - will be held on December 1.