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10 Mar 2020

How to cope with exam stress


Children react to the stress of exams in different ways. For some, stress can be a great motivator for revision – giving them ‘the get up and go’ they need to succeed in exams. Other students aren’t affected by stress and take the exam period in their stride.

For many students, however, the pressures of exam season can be overwhelming and counterproductive. This may be in the form of cognitive impacts such as difficultly concentrating, or affective signs like panic and tension. It’s important for children to learn how to manage exam stress and anxiety.

During revision

Starting revision is often the biggest hurdle to overcome. To help your child feel confident about tackling their revision workload, here’s a few top tips:

Create a detailed plan

Help them to set short-term and realistic targets· Show them a range of revision techniques to improve productivity and focus

Practice information recall with them, to consolidate learning at the end of each day

Help them to monitor their progress and identify areas for development – exam specifications are ideal checklists for self-assessment

During exams: Controlling physical reactions

When it comes to the day of the exams, controlling physical reactions will help your child to remain calm under pressure.

Breathing techniques, for example, will help to slow down their heart rate and reduce the initial feeling of panic. This will allow them to think more logically and answer the exam questions more confidently.

Mindfulness apps such as Headspace could be a good way to introduce new breathing exercises.

Practicing stress-busting techniques in advance of the exams, such as shoulder rolling to release physical tension, will help your child to feel more prepared.

During exams: Feeling more confident about exams

Adopting a positive ‘can do’ attitude to revision will translate into exam performance. This includes replacing negative beliefs, with positive ones, such as “I will succeed in my Maths exam”.

Maintaining focus right before entering the exam is also very important. This might mean avoiding classmates before the exam or developing a ‘pre-exam’ morning routine.

Finally, a good sleep before exams makes all the difference. Finishing revision at a reasonable time and switching off phones at 9pm will help your child to avoid distractions and recuperate.

If your child is struggling with exam stress, please contact their school or home school teacher so they can provide tailored advice and support.

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