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  • Debbie Fletcher

Exams and how to survive them

‘UK students suffer some of the highest levels of exam related stress in the world’, according to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development.

With the absence of course work and success dependent on exams, stress levels are likely to rise even further.

But it doesn’t have to be like that.

Here are some tips to help you and your child over the exam season.

How to recognise whether your child is suffering from exam stress.

  • Are they being overly emotional, getting upset or angry over trivial things?

  • Have their sleeping patterns changed, broken sleep or too much or too little sleep?

  • How are they eating? Over or under eating can be a sign of stress.

  • Complaining of headaches and generally feeling under the weather?

  • Are they smoking or drinking in order to calm their nerves?

  • Perhaps they going to school late or even refusing?

  • Procrastinating and finding excuses why they cannot revise?

What can they do to help themselves?

  • Stop procrastinating - recognise that tidying books just one more time before they get down to revision is not helpful.

  • Be aware and challenge their internal dialogue, thoughts such as; there is no point working as I am never going to pass.

  • If the work seems overwhelming break the task down into smaller manageable elements. Learn to plan, taking time to timetable both work any social activities will give a sense of control and make sure all subjects are covered. Don’t over do it, pace the work with reward breaks in between studying.

  • Mindfulness and visualisation techniques may help.

  • Learn to teach, explaining to others is a powerful learning tool.

  • Revise with a partner, a different approach can keep spirits up.

  • Keep use of the phone/social media as a reward, it eats time.

  • Be aware of sleep hygiene, keeping a relaxed bedtime routine, not using electronic gadgets before bed.

What you can do?

  • Listen and gently encourage them to share their worries and successes with you.

  • Become a ‘pupil’ to their teacher, you never know what you might learn.

  • Encourage them to take regular revision breaks and help organise small rewards.

  • Perspective, it is hard to see things in perspective when it seems like everything is dependent on passing these exams. So, help them see that this is not the be all and end all of life.

  • Show them that they are loved and respected what ever their exam results may be, some of the most successful people did no have glittering school careers.

  • Reward them for effort rather than results. Plan something for them to look forward to when their exams finish.

Finally, remember to keep things in perspective, it will eventually be over and they will have a long and hopefully hot summer to look forward to.

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