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Exam stress and anxiety

Exams are a stressful time for any young person. At Turves Green Boys’ School, boys are taught from Year 7 about what stress is, what’s normal and when to seek help.

 When it comes to exams, it is important to lets us know if your son appears to be particularly struggling during  exam time. This might include having  poor sleep patterns or a change in appetite or behaviour. It’s worth preparing ways of supporting your son during exam weeks and thinking about how you will react and respond on the day if they don’t get the result that they, or you, are hoping for. 

These are things that can really make a difference: 

  1. Work with your child to find what revision style works for them. (See our tips on our website for revision techniques)
  2. Encourage your child to take revision breaks and find a balance between studying and doing things they find enjoyable and relaxing.
  3. Make sure they are eating and drinking at regular intervals.
  4. Encourage them to take some time after revising to wind down. 
  5. Reassure them – reinforce that you are and will be proud of them no matter what happens.
  6. Remain positive and hopeful!
  7. Plan a treat or an activity together to mark the end of the exams.
  8. Set aside one to one time so that they can talk to you about any worries.
  9. Let them know their feelings are valid and normal, but also offer support and solutions where possible.
  10. Anxiety is often worst at night and this means it is useful to encourage good bedtime routine
  11. Work with them to develop relaxation techniques.
  12. If anxiety and stress start impacting their day-to-day life seek help from your GP.

How to manage a 'disappointing' results day

If your child, or you, are unhappy with their exam results it can be tough to deal with. Here are some things that can help:

  1. If your child is happy to show you their results statement, you might find it helpful to have a look, just in case they have misread or misunderstood, or overlooked something.
  2. Accept their feelings, whatever they are – disappointment, anger, embarrassment, bravado. Their feelings are neither right nor wrong, they just are. Don’t offer immediate judgement, or solutions, or even reassurance – there will be plenty of time for conversations later.
  3. Reflect back how they are feeling to show you have understood, for example, “I can see you’re disappointed with the Maths result.”
  4. Let them know you love them through highs and lows. Big hugs are good (although probably very embarrassing in public).
  5. Show you’re on their side - it could be something small like getting their favourite snack. 
  6. Give yourself some breathing space and time to reflect. 
  7. Ask the school to help your child explore any possible next steps, such as including re-takes, re-marking, alternative courses.
  8. If your child is disappointed with their results, they might also be embarrassed.  Agree with your child how they want their results discussed with family and friends, if at all.