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 difficulty concentrating, or affective signs like panic and tension. It’s important for children to learn how to manage stress and control any physical reactions to exam anxiety.
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
- Practise information recall 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.
Practising 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.
If your child has numerous deadlines, essays to write and exams to take, it can be difficult for them to envisage how, and if, they will make it to the finish line. By devising a plan of action, including exam dates, deadlines and a revision schedule, they will be able to stagger the tasks and ensure assignments are completed on time.
It’s also important to schedule time to relax and unwind. Exercising, fresh air and a change of scene will help to maintain a positive frame of mind. Early nights and eating well will help them to remain energetic and focused.
Ask for help
Whether it be a friend, parent, teacher or tutor, there is always someone who will be able to listen and offer guidance. A support network is vital for students to discuss any worries and concerns, and implement the best next steps going forward.