Exam stress can start when you feel you can’t cope with revision, or if you feel pressure from your school or family. You might be worried you’re going to fail or that you won’t get the grades you need for the course or job you want.
It can seem scary to talk about stress or anxiety. You might feel like nobody else is feeling this way. But bottling up stress and trying to deal with it on your own can often make the stress worse. So it can really help to talk.
When we feel anxious, we often give ourselves negative messages like: ‘I can’t do this’, ‘I’m useless’ and ‘I’m going to fail’. It can be difficult but try to replace these with positive thoughts such as: ‘this is just anxiety, it can’t harm me’ and, ‘relax, concentrate – it’s going to be okay’.
Picturing how you’d like things to go can help you feel more positive. Try to imagine yourself turning up to an exam feeling confident and relaxed. You turn over your paper, write down what you do know and come away knowing you tried your best on the day.
It can sometimes feel like your whole future depends on what grades you get. There can be a lot of pressure on young people to do well in exams which can cause a lot of stress and anxiety. You might have been predicted certain grades or put into a higher set, and feel if you don’t get the grade you’ll let your teachers or parents down.
The exams are around the corner and there’s a cloud of stress hanging in the air at home. Here are some effective strategies that will help you and your child stay on top.
Remember, exams are important – but they’re not the only way to a successful future. Lots of people achieve success in life without doing well in school exams.
Develop smart learning methods.
Encourage creative learning. We often equate hard work with the number of hours a child puts in. But it’s really the quality of learning that makes the difference. Active learning methods such as reading aloud, helping others learn, brainstorming, recording and listening (for auditory learners), highlighting, mind-mapping, making notes and diagrams (for visual learners) and movement, walking around, dribbling the ball (for kinaesthetic learners) or maybe a mix of all these can help the brain absorb the information efficiently.
Let them take a break. Each child is wired differently-some need breaks every hour, while others can stay focused for hours. A break will help energize the overloaded brain. A high-protein or unprocessed carb snack, a jog in the park or listening to music refreshes the brain, preparing it for further learning and retention. Once in a while, take long breaks-a meal at a restaurant or a good film is okay. These will keep your child feeling upbeat and prepare her for the long haul.
Avoid Procrastination: Avoid delaying of activity, and start everything with a positive attitude. “This is boring,’ ‘I don’t want to do it now,’ ‘I will do it later’-can lead to demotivation and chronic procrastination. So help your kid to embrace anticipation ‘I am going to have fun doing these maths problems,’ ‘I am going to stay focused and get this done,’ to keep the energy and motivation alive.
Remove distractions. Sit down with her and identify them. It could be the TV, mobile phones, social media, music, gaming consoles. Your child will try and convince you that multitasking makes her focus better. But research shows that this is a myth, listen calmly but take a clear stand.
Help your kids visualize. Before the exams, help your child visualize the exam morning-every detail from the travel to the exam centre, walking in, meeting friends, sitting down and going through the question paper. Let her see herself answering the questions with complete confidence and alertness. Research has shown that visualizing prepares the brain in advance for affirmative action.
Ensure enough sleep. It helps the overwrought brain recover, improving concentration and focus. A high-protein breakfast wakes the brain up like nothing else can.
Work on yourself so you don’t lose your nerve.
Avoid nagging. If you feel your child is not putting in enough effort, sit down and have a chat with her. Listen, empathize with her struggles and together, work out a plan that will help her stay on track. Remember, kids will do well if they are given the support they need.
Create an easy, comfortable atmosphere at home. Exams do not mean gloom and drudgery. Make space for fun, laughter, playfulness, good food and music. The happier the child, the more effectively she will be able to learn.
Keep the bigger picture in mind. Stay calm and emphasize sustained effort, perseverance and determination. Focus on building character, not grades. In the long run, that is all that really matters.