Mental health awareness week: helping students manage stress and keep calm

Published: Monday 9 May 2022

With exams just about to start we wanted to share some tips to help our students manage stress and keep calm.

We know the past two years have been challenging and that students might feel nervous about doing their exams, so we’ve put together some great advice for students and their parents, including relaxation techniques to keep nerves under control.

Some key points to consider are:

Before your exams

  • Being prepared and doing the work will always help you feel more confident about sitting your exams, so do as much revision as you can.
  • Celebrate your successes in revision tasks and know when you do well.
  • Meditation and exercise are great ways to help clear your mind, leaving you feeling refreshed and energised.
  • Eat the right foods and drink lots of water.
  • If possible, avoid classmates who are highly stressed or who want to talk about the exams.
  • Plan your exam day so you feel in control; allow for travel and proper meals.

During your exams

  • Breathe – take some deep breaths to relax your body and mind. This will really help if you freeze up or are struggling to get started.
  • Focus on your paper. Block out the exam room and other students.
  • Read the entire question paper, answering the questions you feel most comfortable with. By answering these first, you will feel more confident and settle into the rest of the exam.
  • Keep a good attitude and use positive language with yourself; your nerves will pass and you're not alone.

After your exams

Sometimes exam stress doesn't just disappear once you have finished your exams, as you might be worried about your results. There are post-results options available to you if you don't get the results you need. But until then, take time to celebrate completing your exams and your achievements so far.

There are lots of other really helpful resources out there to help with exam stress, including from charity Young Minds, and the exams regulator Ofqual also has advice for students.

For further help and support, visit our page for managing stress when waiting for results.

Becki Hinchliffe, AQA’s Safeguarding Lead, said:

“There’s some great support available for students, and they don’t have to go through this alone.

“If you’re struggling please let someone know: this could be a parent, someone at school or by contacting some of the young peoples’ charities we signpost on our website.”

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