6 Best Ways to Help Avoid Exam Stress

As summer approaches, it becomes a time of exams and tests at school and college. Fiona Ross from gives us some advice and tips in 6 Best Ways to Help Avoid Exam Stress:

The headline jumped out at me in an English newspaper today… ‘ Children as young as 10 smoking to ease exam worries’. I just had to click through yes there it was… in a poll of over 1000 kids, eight had admitted smoking, 37 ate chocolate and 30 drank high sugar drinks. I have to say I was shocked that kids that young would even know what exam stress is but the evidence was there.

The article made me reflect a little.

‘Exam stress’ can affect more than just students

At this time of year we tend to think of exam stress purely in terms of Junior Cert, Leaving Cert and University students but there are other younger kids who are dreading their summer ‘tests’.  It is very important we look out for these young worriers amongst us. If they are worried now in 5th class or first year they have a long road ahead of them.

I was also conscious that I have two adult friends who are finishing up degrees at this time of year and they are certainly very stress and worried so we should not forget parents who are studying too.  It is clear exam stress can affect a really wide group, the poor unfortunates doing the exams and also those who surround them, parents, colleagues or peers.

So what is the best advice to help avoid exam stress?

#1. Be present but stay in the background

exam stressAs a parent the best thing to do is to be present but stay in the background.

Be there to support or chat if needed but let the student dictate the interaction.

#2. Provide a supportive environment

Try as best you can to provide the student, no matter what age, with a supportive environment with things such as:

  • a clean quiet study space,
  • a gag order on the rest of the family,
  • lots of good health nutritious food, and
  • the odd post study treat.

You might also find 10 Do’s and Don’ts of Exam Techniques useful

#3. Don’t let your stress add to their stress

As a parents try not to let your stress add to their stress. Limit stupid arguments as much as possible and try to keep to a routine. The most important thing however is that they know regardless of how they do in the exams that you still love them (sure you might be annoyed or disappointed) and that together you will figure out a good plan for their future.

#4. Encourage your teen or child not to panic

For the student most will be sick and tired of advice at this point. The key now is not to panic, to know what you don’t know, and work through practical pragmatic revision plans. You will not cover a course in a few days so don’t even try. Parents can offer to help with practical revision plans and breaking down the study times.

You might also find 5 tips to help your teenager with Exam Stress useful

#5. Encourage avoiding social media apart from at study breaks

A big cause of stress for teenagers will come from their peers all of whom will be freaking out hour by hour as they discover a section that, of course, ‘they completely forgot to study’ – this is where social media can be a huge distraction.

It is not realistic for parents to tell teens to turn off the phones and internet completely all the time, but it is a really good idea to leave the phone in another room and use a study break to check in with equally freaked out pals.

#6. Encourage exercise

Exercise is absolutely key at this time of year. I can see spotty teenagers whom I have never noticed before out walking dogs or themselves around the neighbourhood. Fresh air is quite literally a miracle cure for exam stress. If that fails I live near a new ice cream shop in Dun Laoghaire that has a huge queue of tired looking teenagers every single day. I think they must be selling tubs of happiness!

myndservMyndserv is a leading mental health services company. MyndServ works with individuals, doctors and pharmacies to provide therapists, counsellors, psychologists and coaches to people who are in need of such services. MyndServ acts as a ‘patient advocate’, we find suitable therapists for our clients and help arrange their therapist. MyndServ also offers effective and affordable guided self-help courses for people who are struggling with stress and anxiety.

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Jill is one of the co-founders of Mykidstime and a mum of 2 girls