Dealing With Exam Stress

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Everyone needs some stress in order to perform to the best of their ability but as Lincoln UTC’s teaching team know, too much stress can lead to a lack of concentration and burn out, which when you’re about to sit an exam is the last thing someone wants.

Aware of the potential impact ‘test anxiety’ can have on performance, Sophie Donaghey, one of our Teaching Assistants decided to be proactive in the run up to GCSEs.

Sophie surveyed all of our Year 11 students and found that 60% were feeling anxious about their forthcoming exams.

To help students understand more about anxiety, how to spot it and deal with it, Sophie compiled an Exam Stress Support Booklet which has been given to every Year 11 student. Parents were also emailed, highlighting how to spot stress and support a child suffering from ‘test anxiety’.

Among Sophie’s top tips for dealing with stress are:

  1. Simple breathing technique.
  2. Get comfortable, close your eyes and take a deep breath
  3. Hold the breath for 3 seconds and then breathe out slowly
  4. Repeat twice more

Making orange juice – feeling physical relaxation

  • Pretend that you have two oranges, one in each hand.
  • Squeeze them to make orange juice.
  • Squeeze harder and harder until there’s no juice left.
  • Now relax your hands.

Ensure you’re getting plenty of quality sleep

  1. Go to bed at the same time and get up at the same time – even at weekends!
  2. If you can’t get to sleep after 30 minutes of trying – get up and do something calming, until you feel tired and try again.
  3. Avoid caffeine and nicotine within 4-6 hours of going to bed – these will keep you awake!
  4. Don’t use electronic devices in the hour before you’re going to bed.
  5. Your bedroom needs to be quiet and comfortable.
  6. Avoid taking naps in the day
  7. Don’t clock watch if you’re struggling to get to sleep. Negative thoughts will only keep you awake!
  8. Keep your daytime routine the same.

And it’s not just students that can feel stressed during exam period; staff are often affected too! That’s why, as well as preparing a guide for pupils, Sophie also developed a booklet full of helpful tips for teachers.

If you would like to see a copy of the Exam Stress Support Booklet, you can download it here. Hopefully, as half-term approaches, students will be able to find some time to relax and unwind in between revising, and these tips will help them manage their test anxiety.