Exam Stress

It’s been 30 years since the GCSE was introduced, I think from memory my own year group were the second group of pupils to sit the new style exam. A combination of course work and final year exams, and yes I know, I don’t look old enough.

Perhaps it’s my ripe old age that has healed the wounds of history however I don’t remember the same level of debilitating stress and anxiety amongst my friends being so prevalent on the run up or during what was traditional exam season. That season has now increased with our kids being tested more and more with mocks and pre-mocks – right now in our household that’s from now (end of October) all the way through until June next year.

Undoubtedly it was there, I had my own sense of doom to contend with, the fear of failure that I attributed to not having revised enough or by not challenging myself with new methods of learning, the uncertainty that when required I would be able to recall the information that I needed that would accrue the most marks etc. The onset of brain fog and a racing heart, letting people down. 

If only I knew how to do some of the techniques and interventions I know now. Anybody know how to time travel?   

The revised, new GCSE as it is today is supposed to be the gold standard, according to a chap called ‘Gove’ who decided that the old GCSEs’ reliance on coursework assessment was open to abuse. Gove argued that the content of the revised examinations should be pitched at a more sophisticated level, by making GCSEs more demanding, more fulfilling, and more stretching we can give our young people the broad, deep and balanced education which equip them to win in the global race. (Apparently) Tested almost exclusively by end of year exams. 

Exam stress and anxiety can present a significant threat to anyone, especially with the narrative of Mr Gove being thread through the education system. ‘You are taking the most demanding exams’ straight away this description is absorbed by our children’s’ subconscious minds and potentially having a profound effect on their thinking, their feelings and their behaviour. 

As parents we are effected too, often in our desire to do the right thing with our children by reminding them to study, how to study and even what to study despite our own experiences being based way back. Our unconscious bias impacting on our parenting ability and the rhetoric that we know best.

I wonder if you were like me, one of the many at 16 who struggled with maths at school, simply because my teacher had told me that I would never be any good or that it was going to be difficult so I had to muster the ability to work extra hard and concentrate more. Like that was going to make the difference that made the difference. It was too late, my subconscious was already programmed – I was living a self fulfilling prophecy – for what we believe, we become! To this day I fear maths. But for the record I scraped through. 

As parents we want to do the best for our children, and to do that best we need to understand how to influence behaviour through effective language and manage stress so that it can be felt as helpful or even exciting. How habits of thinking of stress as being useful and by practicing thinking habits of an optimist, understanding how the fight – or – flight response work and seeing the hidden potential benefits of the situation, and reminding yourself of the strengths that you have – can all work to reduce too much stress.

Knowing and understanding how the stress response is triggered can in itself be an important and healthy tool in helping your child to manage and reverse debilitating exam stress, sometimes its tricky as a parent to convince your child that you do know, understand and can help. 

Having a helping hand can make all the difference. 

Building resources is imperative but they don’t always come easy. I get the current ‘square peg round hole’ feeling by some parents with the education system and as a parent of two neurodivergent teens, with experience of working and supporting many other teens with  extreme exam stress I use Cognitive Hypnotherapy to tailor an approach that not only reduces exam stress and anxiety but builds self belief and confidence. 

Teaching new skills that will show your child how to respond differently in the moment, how to prevent and stop panic and how to remain in control with a feeling of being connected so they can perform at their best not only on exam day but everyday.

Our children have the most incredible capabilities and I want to help you, help them make a real tangible difference. As with all my clients, I do not treat labels, I work with how the ‘problem’ is done so you will not be given generalised advice – only a tailored personal bespoke approach. Exploring the root cause / the learnt response and overcoming limiting beliefs. 

Do you want to have a conversation about how I can help you and your child? Then make a free 30 minute breakthrough call now.