How to Reduce Exam Stress

Updated on 23 November 2013

Children who experience stress may be irritable, not sleep well, lose interest in food, worry a lot and appear depressed or negative. Headaches and stomach pains can also be stress-related.

Support from a parent, tutor or study buddy can help children air their worries and keep things in perspective.

  • Balanced Diet

    A balanced diet is vital for your child’s health, and can help them to feel well during exam periods. Some parents find that too many high-fat, high-sugar and high-caffeine foods and drinks (such as cola, sweets, chocolate, burgers and chips) make their children hyperactive, irritable and moody.

  • Good Sleep helps exam performance

    Good sleep will improve thinking and concentration. Most teenagers need between eight and ten hours’ sleep a night. Allow half an hour or so for kids to wind down between studying, watching TV or using a computer and going to bed to help them get a good night’s sleep. Cramming all night before an exam is usually a bad idea. Sleep will benefit your child far more than hours of panicky last-minute study.

  •  Be flexible at exam time

    Family Lives advises parents to be flexible around exam time. When your child is revising all day, don’t worry about household jobs that are left undone or untidy bedrooms. Staying calm yourself can help. Remember, exams don’t last forever.

  •  Help them to study

    Help your child to revise by making sure they have somewhere comfortable to study. Help them draw up a revision schedule or ask the school for one.

  • Discuss their nerves

    Remind your child that feeling nervous is normal. Nervousness is a natural reaction to exams.

    The key is to put these nerves to positive use. Being reminded of what they do know and the time they have put into study can help them feel confident.

  • Encourage exercise
    Make sure your kids are active. Exercise can help boost energy levels, clear the mind and relieve stress. Walking, cycling, swimming, football and dancing are all effective.
  •  Don’t add to the pressure

    Before they go in for a test or exam, be reassuring and positive. Make sure they know that failing isn’t the end of the world, and that if things don’t go well they may be able to take the exam again.
    After each exam, encourage your child to talk it through with you. Then move on and focus on the next test, rather than dwelling on things that can’t be changed.

  •  Rewards

    When the exams are over, help celebrate with a treat. These can be a real encouragement for the next time they have a test.

    Don’t use rewards as bribes. Instead, encourage them to work for their own satisfaction, offering small, frequent treats.