Coping with Exam Stress: Advice From a Teacher
June 6, 2018

Feeling stressed about exams?

We understand. To help, we’ve got advice from Claire, a teacher from South Lanarkshire, about coping with exam stress and maintaining mental health for students.

Claire’s advice:

A few years ago, you would never hear of anyone talking about mental health openly. Mental ill-health was whispered about and it seemed something to be ashamed of. There are many great charities out there now that are trying to raise the profile of mental health by encouraging people to talk about how they feel. Research suggests that actively engaging in a conversation and knowing that someone is listening can be of benefit.

From a teacher’s perspective, I felt it was important to find out more about the issues our young people face. I attended a course to understand mental health issues in young people. This was delivered by a mental health nurse with years of experience and even they spoke about the changing world and increase in mental ill-health, that can be a result of school or home life and often the pressures of the virtual world.

Self-esteem and confidence can be affected because role models are often fake celebrities, where liking and sharing of infinite numbers of pictures daily is an essential part of everyday life. Online bullying, trolling and even cat fishing can have a lasting impact on a young person’s mental health.

Mental health can manifest itself in many different ways, from anxiety and depression to suicidal thoughts – we are all on a continuum – at any point in time, anyone can experience mental ill-health, which can be short or long-term. 20% of the population are thought to have mental health issues and over a lifetime, the probability is high. No one is exempt from these feelings and it can happen at any time – there doesn’t need to be a trigger.

Tips on Coping with Exam Stress:

This time of year can be particularly stressful for young people, with expectations of exams, results, jobs and college courses at stake. The best advice would be to:

  1. Plan, plan, plan – make sure there is a study timetable or list of outstanding items to be covered
  2. Take regular breaks
  3. Remember copying isn’t studying – try past paper questions, it’s the best way of understanding what could be asked and they ways in which it is laid out in the exam
  4. Spraying a perfume or aftershave on the notes could help recall if the same smell is spayed on the exam day
  5. Ask for help if you need it – talk to a teacher or a friend if you’re struggling
  6. And remember, exam results are not everything. There are many paths to success – it is all about hard work.

Getting Help:

I would encourage anyone who doesn’t feel quite themselves to talk to someone. This is normal, don’t be ashamed or frightened that people will think you’re being silly.

SAMH is a great website for advice and guidance and a good one to refer to if you want information for a friend or family member that could be experiencing from poor mental health.


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