How to Manage Exam Stress and Anxiety

The all important exam season is one of the most satisfying times of the year. Months of preparation and hard work have been based around this focal period of exams, and students really start maturing once they realise that education is really about putting dedicated and hard work.

But it’s not all plain sailing and as exams kick in, some students are prone to anxiety and stress more than others. Managing this is all important as months of preparation and hard work could be ruined by last minute nerves. Exam anxiety and stress are a normal part of the whole exam process. And being able to focus and then sit the exams is itself a journey that students need to take. They come out of the other side with a real sense of achievement and more maturity once they have gone through this trial by fire.

Here are some pointers for both parents and students to manage anxiety and general wellbeing:

  • Provide meals at the right times (for parents), eat at all the right times (for students).
  • Make sure you are drinking water – easier to drink with a straw. It is summer and winter drinking habits will cause dehydration, we need more water in the summer.
  • NO junk food : The temptation to eat pizza, chips and sugary treats is highest during times of stress. This needs to be avoided at all costs. Simple home cooked meals are best.
  • Early nights – The brain is so full on information at this point that it needs a lot of hours of sleep to process and rest. Last minute cramming is not a good idea at all. Please do not do this!
  • No screens/iPhone an hour before bed (wishful thinking I know – pigs will fly!) – At the very least students can switch their screens to “night mode” which is a lot less aggressive on the eyes at night.
  • Mindful exercises – Count deep breaths in and out for one minute before attempting any past papers. Practice past papers in different locations to get familiar with the unfamiliar. I always tell my students that your real paper should feel like your 15th past paper.
  • Keep calm and grounded. The student will be surrounded by other anxious students, which is ok to an extent but if everyone else stays calm, students will be calm as well. Keep calm and carry on as they say 🙂

Here’s a few more articles and links:

How to help your teenagers revise for exams – The Guardian Article

‘Leave us alone’: teens plea to parents suffering from exams stress – The Telegraph Article

Lastly, good luck with exams, they will be all over soon!

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