Exam stress

Supporting your teenager through their exams

Estimated read: 8 minutes 

Exam time can be very stressful for everyone in the family as your teen may be feeling anxious and under pressure. 

Key points: 

  • It is important to remember that every teenager will approach their exam season in their particular way and whether it is listening to music whilst revising or studying with friends together in a group
  • Give your child lots of encouragement so they feel more positive before they leave for their exam. Let them know how proud you are of them regardless of how they think they do
  • After each exam, allow them the opportunity to talk about how they have done and allow them to do the talking while you listen
exam stress - supporting your teenager through exams

The impact of exam stress

Exam season can be a really daunting time for some young people, whereas others seem to just take in in their stride. You may also be feeling under pressure as you want them to be able to do their best and put the effort in. You may find that helping them get organised for revision is a uphill struggle but it is important to note that each young person has their own way of revision that often works for them. If they are struggling, have a chat to their school/college in the first instance for support and advice. 

If you’re worried about your child’s exams and the marks they might get, imagine how overwhelming it might be for them. Preparing for and sitting exams can be a very pressured time, and then, once the exams are finished, it's a countdown to the results which can be equally stressful for everyone.

As a parent you can really help your children through this time, just by being there for them and encouraging them to talk about their feelings and fears. Arrange some downtime for them in between the exams so they can fully recharge before the next exam. Having some balance is very important and can help them manage their stress and anxiety levels. Th

Top tips for exam revision

It is important to remember that every teenager will approach their exam season in their particular way and whether it is listening to music whilst revising or studying with friends together in a group. There are some things you can do to help such as ensuring they have a comfortable place to work and study which is quiet. If you do not have a suitable spot, make it easy for them to study elsewhere, like the library or at someone's home. It may be better to go out and let them have the house to themselves at crucial times for an hour or so. It may help to talk to the school or attend the parent information evenings so you can get the best tips on supporting them. Other tips that can help: 

  • Accept that some people can revise better with music or the TV on in the background
  • Establish a revision routine by re-arranging the family’s schedules and priorities that works for them
  • Be lenient about chores and untidiness as much as you are able to
  • Give them a break and understand lost tempers and moodiness
  • Try to avoid nagging them as it can help them lose focus
  • It is never too late to study, revise or ask for help
  • Don't go in for bribes; encourage them to work for their own satisfaction
  • Research good study sites such as BBC Bitesize for tips and ideas

Help your teen by keeping calm, positive and reassuring and put the whole thing into perspective. Schedule small and frequent rewards for the effort they are putting in. Arrange some downtime so they can have a break from revision and exams and enjoy some much needed family time. 

Preparing for an exam

Get them ready for an exam with plenty of planning and support. Encourage them to get all their pens, pencils and equipment ready the evening before. Try to get them to go to bed early so they are able to have a restful sleep. In the morning, arrange for them to have a healthy and nutritious breakfast to help them focus and concentrate. Go through a checklist to make sure they have everything they need. Give your child lots of encouragement so they feel more positive before they leave. Let them know how proud you are of them regardless of how they think they do.

After the exam

After each exam, allow them the opportunity to talk about how they have done and allow them to do the talking while you listen. Encourage them not to dwell on mistakes they may have felt they have made. They may want some space to compare notes with other friends. You may want to share your experiences of exams as this may reassure them.

Exam results mark the end of one phase in your child's life, and the beginning of another. This can be unsettling and difficult so let them voice their worries and expectations and listen out for any underlying serious issues.

Plan an event to mark the results, whatever they are and have some fun now with your child. Make it clear that you love and value your child for who they are, and not for what happened in an exam. 

Further resources 

It may help to chat to other parents on our forums to find out how they are dealing with this issue within their family life. You can also talk to us online via our live chat service, email us at askus@familylives.org.uk or call us on our helpline on 0808 800 2222 to speak to trained family support worker. If your teen wants to talk to someone about how they are feeling, they can text Shout 85258 for support. 

This page was updated on October 2021

Watch our advice video for further tips

 

This article was updated on April 2019

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