Stress and exams – helping students cope

Stress can be a big issue for some students facing tests or exams, especially if it is for the first time. Teachers prepare students by alerting them to the forthcoming tests, reminding them to prepare, and revising material that is to be covered. Even with all that assistance the stress experienced by students can be significant, so significant in fact that some students spend more time and energy worrying about the exam than preparing and doing it!

Good exam prep has three stages: REVISION of work, PRACTISE answering the questions, and the EXAM. It does not all happen the night before the exam! Stress can be significantly reduced by preparing well in advance, and having confidence in your preparation.

How can you help your student?

  •  Be aware of the exam timetable – know when the tests are coming up and talk about them well before the day.  In my house we had the exam timetable on the fridge.
  •  Encourage early revision of work – put together a revision timetable and reward your student for doing it. 
  • Help with the practise. One easy way is to turn information in your students’ notes into questions, and having them explain the answer to you, or better still write the answer and you check to see you understand the answer he/she has written.
  • Be supportive the night before.  Our exam night routine involved an early night the night before, and a big cooked breakfast on the exam morning.  It became an 'exam ritual' - everyone knew it was exam morning and we would get up a bit earlier just to make sure there was time to have a good breakfast without any panic or drama.  This was a special day, and we were well prepared. Being nervous is natural. Most people experience ‘blank minds’ before exams but when they sit down and read the questions they trust their brains to leap into gear and find the answers needed. 

You have done the work, it is all there; you just have to trust yourself.



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