Exam stress has been in the news several times recently, with concerns over stress in young children tested in primary schools all the way up to GSCE students often sitting 2 exams in one day during a very intense testing period. So what are the signs of stress in our students and how can we support them?
Signs of stress
Tiredness, usually coupled with struggling to get to sleep and struggling to get up in the morning.
Lack of interest in activities
Migraines and headaches or stomach pains
Increased heart rate or increased anxiety possibly with irritability.
Seeming worried or depressed
Eating properly is hard when balancing revision with school, but it is really important to eat fresh fruit and vegetables. A sensible breakfast (not chocolate) and balanced meals will help maintain energy levels.
We all know we need to drink plenty of water to uphold concentration levels, but often coffee or caffeinated drinks are relied upon to keep us awake. These drinks should be avoided to prevent a cycle of tiredness followed by caffeinated or energy drinks to stay awake, inability to fall asleep at night, and then struggling to get up resulting in more coffee or caffeinated drinks.....
A good night’s sleep can help reduce stress levels and improve general health, but this is hard to achieve when you already feel stressed. So, avoid revising too near bedtime- keep revision away from the bed too, keep that as a safe haven and revise at a desk, table or even sat on the floor. Avoid sugary food before bed as this can keep you awake or try warm milk if you are still struggling to get to sleep.
Exercise can relieve stress and calm anxiety, also providing a well deserved break revision. A gentle walk after revising to help relax could also help you to sleep. Using exercise to break up revision in school with revision at home can also be beneficial, leaving you refreshed ready for fresh and effective revision at home. If exercise isn’t normally your thing, try swimming or dancing around to your favourite music, or even walking your/ your neighbour’s dog.
Exercise gives a time out, but it is important take time to relax your body as well as your mind. Have treats planned into your revision timetable- going out for an ice cream or a burger (as part of a balanced diet of course) can be a reward for completing a few days revision or surviving a week of exams. If you are still struggling to relax, try watching a film you really wanted to see as this can be good distraction.
Plan your time- revision, exercise and treats should all be planned into your revision timetable. This means you can see exactly what to do each day, breaking the task up into manageable chunks.
7.No post exam analysis
As tempting as it is to find out what everyone else wrote to answer a question, if you find out you answered it incorrectly you could feel upset and stressed, distracting you from further revision. Once the exam is over, you can’t change the answers, so don’t worry about you wrote or didn’t write- move on to the next one.
These tips can be shared with parents or even students themselves, print them out and display them in your classroom or give them to students. This is one of the most stressful times for students, but we have all survived it and so will they!
More information can be found at :