How to support students with exam stress

As exam season approaches, it is normal for students to feel a bit worried about exams, however, a lot of pupils are experiencing higher degrees of anxiety this year.

The disruption to their education, the stamina required for online learning during lockdowns and the fear of becoming ill, especially having a cough, are all new additions that have increased levels of anxiety for many. This can affect their sleep, appetite, ability to socialise and can compound itself without support.

Pupils will perform better if they are given the right support, so here we have developed 10 tips for our supply teachers to help their students with exam stress; be active and encourage some discussion.

  1. Reassure them that they are not alone; most students are feeling the pressure more than ever about their exams.
  2. Help them to get things into perspective, predicted grades were set long before the pandemic, so they are not a failure for not achieving them.
  3. Encourage them to discuss how they feel with friends and family.
  4. Encourage them to study in small groups, as it can be more supportive and provide a social element.
  5. If they are having trouble sleeping, suggest they google online tips as there are lots of ideas on how to get to sleep and have a better-quality sleep.
  6. Advise them not to sleep in the same room that they revise in, as this is a common mistake which can be a barrier to falling asleep, i.e., being surrounded by books and flashcards can induce anxiety.
  7. Encourage them to reflect on the positives and achievement so far, build confidence in their ability.
  8. Remind them that although they have lost learning opportunities through lockdowns, all pupils sitting exams have been in the same boat as them.
  9. Encourage them to devise a revision timetable that includes periods of switching off and rewards.
  10. Be a listening ear if they want to discuss their grades, put things into perspective and be encouraging rather than critical. Click here to view our article titled “10 signs a pupil may be experiencing mental health issues” from earlier this year.