What is it?
It’s very common to feel stressed around exam time. Young people often feel there’s a huge amount of pressure to do well, or anxious that they can’t fit all the revision in.
Both exams and waiting for results can be stressful for young people.
How much stress is normal?
Exam stress can be caused by:
• Pressure from parents and relatives to do well
• The need to get high grades in certain subjects to get on track for the career they really want
• Uncertainty about what to do next – “There are so many options, what if I make the wrong choice?”
• The feeling of everything changing in their lives such as going on to an apprenticeship or moving away to university.
These fears and concerns are completely natural – their friends are probably feeling exactly the same, whether they share this or not. It is only if these fears start to overwhelm your child that you need to consider doing something about it.
What are the signs a child in my care could be struggling?
• Constant fatigue
• Aches and pains for no apparent reason
• Poor appetite
• Social withdrawal
• Loss of interest in activities
• Increased anxiety and irritability
• “Flying off the handle”
• Increased heart rate
• Blurred vision
Who can help?
• Talk to someone you trust: e.g. a family member, at school, youth group, arts centre, sports club, your social worker, a friend
• Talk to someone who doesn’t already know you or the people in your life – such as a confidential helpline or online service – a useful list of numbers is listed below.
• Talk to your child’s school nurse
• Talk to your family GP – Your GP is a confidential health service open to everyone of all ages, and they may be able to help you themselves or refer your child to a service for youth mental health.
Recommended self-care and management tips?
Make sure your child eats well. Encourage them to avoid foods high in sugar / fat and drinks high in caffeine.
Getting enough sleep – Wind down 30 minutes before bed by turning off screens and closing books. Avoid those last few panicky minutes of revision. Sleep benefits children more than a few last minutes of panicky study.
Be flexible during exams – There’s a long Summer ahead in which to tidy their bedroom.
Stay calm yourself – Exams don’t last forever
Talk about feelings – Anxiety is normal. The key is to put these feelings to a positive use. Remind them of what they know and help build their confidence.
Get active – Exercise can help boost energy levels, clear the mind and relieve stress
Don’t add to the pressure – Keep things in perspective, be positive and offer reassurance. After each exam, encourage your child to talk it through with you. Then move on and focus on the next test, rather than dwelling on things that can’t be changed.
Young Minds Parent Helpline
Call us on 0808 802 5544 (free for mobiles and landlines).
Use our contact form and we will respond to your query within 3 working days.
Young Minds – Parents Helpline
You can also visit Worried about your child?
Further advice for parents on how to support children can be found on the NHS website at Coping exam stress
ChildLine is the UK’s free, confidential helpline for children and young people. We’re here for advice and support, by phone and online, 24 hours a day. Whenever and wherever you need us, we’ll be there. • Phone: 0800 1111 (24 hours) • Website: Childline
Mind How to cope with student life: Exams
14 ways to beat exam stress
Is your child going to Uni? Try the Emoodji app.
Emoodji by Mind is a free app for the ups & downs of university life, from exam stress & homesickness to the joys of last exams done! Take a selfie, choose an emoji for your mood, maybe send it to friends – and track your mood over time
BBC Website Exam Stress Exam Stress
13 Tips on how to deal with exam stress
How to deal with exam stress
Childline Leaflet: Beat Exam Stress
Beat exam stress
Parentline: A Tip Sheet on Exam Stress
Tips for exam stress