Exam Stress

1 June 2010, 05:46

The countdown has started for thousands of children in Sussex getting ready to sit exams and how parents can help their children deal with Exam Stress.

Young people all over the county are currently gearing up to sit tests in their chosen subjects in the coming weeks.

Heart's been speaking to Dr Richard Bowskill expert at the Priory Group in Brighton who help people cope with stress and anxiety. Here our interview here

Here is a checklist to help parents prevent their children falling victim to exam stress.


signs of exam stress that parents should look out for in their children include:

  • Disrupted sleep pattern
  • Becoming increasingly emotional - anger, tearfulness, anxiety or depression
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Becoming negative and lacking confidence
  • Headaches, general aches and pains
  • Loss of appetite
  • Becoming overly-focused on revision to the exclusion of other activities

Tips on how parents can help their children

  • Help their children plan a weekly revision schedule in advance so that everything doesn't build up at the last minute.  Advise them to include plenty of contingency time in case subjects take longer to revise than initially planned. It is important they avoid last minute 'cramming', as this creates particularly high levels of stress, anxiety and even panic attacks.
  • Make sure their children schedule in time for themselves. They should make specific “appointments' within their revision timetables when they leave their books and study to one side and concentrate on their well-being. They should switch off for a while by meeting with friends, doing some exercise or some other pastime or hobby they particularly enjoy.
  • Having enough sleep is one of the most vital elements of staying physically and psychologically sharp. Youngsters studying for exams should aim for regular bed times and wake-up times. Parents should be vigilant for any disruption in sleep, particularly early-morning wakening or difficulty getting off to sleep. This could be a warning sign of stress building up.
  • Encourage their children to share their thoughts. Revising for exams can be difficult for anyone. If they’re finding things tough, opening up and talking it through with family, friends, or teachers can help.
  • Spur their children on to believe in themselves. Performance coaches for top athletes have long-known that in order to achieve success, we have to believe in our own abilities. Suggest that your children imagine getting the marks they want, in the subjects they want. This includes imagining how good that feels. They should hold on to that feeling of success and accomplishment and keep it with them as they revise.
  • Get help early. If parents think their children are starting to feel that the process of exams and revision is too much to cope with and this is affecting their health, then seek help sooner rather than later. The family GP or their school/college should be able to put parents in touch with counsellors or specialist providers who can rapidly get their children back on the road to recovery.