The revisions process during the run up to exams can be stressful as any family with teens will well know but, sitting the exams themselves can also cause nerves to spike. As parents, it’s natural to want to do all you can to keep stress levels down and take extra steps to ensure worries and pressure doesn’t get the best of students during exam season.
However, the head of Cambridge Assessments, which runs OCR and Cambridge exam boards has said this week that it’s “good” to have high stress moments in exams and throughout the academic career because it helps to prepare youngsters for life after secondary school.
With many GCSE courses and A-level results now highly depending on exam results rather than course week, the pressure on students to do well at the critical final exam has increased in recent years.
Speaking exclusively to TES, Cambridge Assessments head, Saul Nassee was quoted as saying, “Personally I think that it’s good to have high stress moments in education, because life has high stress moments in it,” he said. “In some ways that just prepares people for what their life is going to be like.
“As long as you’ve got the support from the school environment, the support from parents, I don’t think exams are intrinsically a stressful and a bad thing.”
What to do if exam stress is impacting on your child’s mental health
Of course, while it is true that exam stress is part and parcel of the education process and certainly something that most will have to deal with at one time or another after leaving school and entering the world of work, too much stress unmanaged can have health implications, not to mention put your child’s final grade at risk.
Where some people thrive under pressure, knowing that their course grade depends on the outcome of the final exam can be overwhelming for some students and mean that their exam performance suffers as a result.
If your child is feeling stressed and anxious about their end of year exams or doesn’t feel confident that they will perform their best in the high-pressure environment, taking steps such as sitting mock exams and completing past papers can remove some of the fear of the unknown. Past papers can also be useful for identifying holes in knowledge, which can help to build confidence and leave students feeling like they’ve truly covered the subject as best as they are able.
Other tips such as a learning a few breathing exercises to stave off anxiety and studying in groups for moral support during the revision process can also be useful.