Exam ‘Stress’

Hints and tips to help parents to support students during the exam season.

Research suggests that exams can be a worry for both 41% of Secondary and 39% of Primary pupils.

This is perfectly natural. Exams ARE stressful! It is part of life. Managing stress is part of life and we all have to develop our own strategies to deal with it and become functional adults. ‘Stress’ is actually our natural bodily response to enable us to perform better.

During exam time, parental advice and support is vital if the young person is to put exams into context. Explain to the young adult that ‘stress’ is natural and experienced by everyone.

Be understanding and empathetic to the situation – exams are hard work!

Encourage the student to prepare and take a sense of ownership for their revision programme. Stress can arise out of a feeling of not being in control. If the student does not prepare, they will feel nervous about it.

Ask about revision and preparation and know what your son/daughter is doing.

Encourage the student to have ambition but to put exams into context.

Always be optimistic and cheerful!

Provide your support to enable an exam ‘routine’ with regard to work time, sleep time, relaxation time and sensible rules during the exam period.

Help the student to have a space to revise where it is quiet. Help to keep siblings occupied so the student won’t be disturbed.

Look out for any signs of worry and stress. Your child may react more to exams than most.  If you see any sign of worry, make it a priority to address. Talk to the student and find out the cause.

Do not hesitate to contact the school to ask for help with revision.

Always be positive!

Keep the student motivated by showing interest, asking about progress, joining in, praising and encouraging.

Encourage the student to eat, sleep, relax and exercise correctly. Make sure that the exam work comes with regular breaks. Life must go on!

Healthy food and regular exercise helps the brain to function better and can reduce stress and tiredness.

Very important – make sure that the student knows that you will remain positive no matter what the outcome of any examinations.

Make sure that other qualities are praised, whether they be persistence, humour, generosity, common sense, consideration or perspective.

Remember that a stressed child is unlikely to perform well in any examination. Always be positive!

Further Support

Some revision strategies that you can get involved with to support your child.

Although reading and re-reading notes is an often used revision strategy, it is perhaps one of the least effective ways to remember important information. Here are a few practical ways in which you could get involved in helping your child to revise. Remember, different approaches work well for different students and it’s always good to mix things up to help maintain interest.

Here are 5 varied approaches to revision that could really help your child in the coming weeks:

  1. Watch the GCSE Pod videos that have be bought by the school on any mobile device or computer.  These are 2-3 minute summaries of the key facts for most GCSE subjects. Aim for just 5 ‘pods’ a day between now and the exam and be amazed at how your child’s knowledge and confidence  grows!
  2. Ask your child to make a mind map to explain a topic to you. They should start with a blank page with the topic name in the centre, and create branches from it, adding details and diagrams as they go.
  3. Quiz, then quiz, then quiz again. For example, get your child to set 10 questions about a topic, they then give the questions (and answers) to you. Fire quiz questions to them and see how many they get right. Then do the same quiz again and again. The more often answers are repeated, the more likely the facts are to stay in the long term memory.
  4. Get your child to teach you a topic, we all remember far more from teaching something to someone else than we do being taught.
  5. A silly but fun and effective way to learn is to sing the key points/facts to the tune of your favourite song/nursery rhyme!