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Adult Education Advice Event | Thursday 7 March | 5-7pm

Exam stress

Why do some people get exam stress?

One of the reasons that exams can be stressful is we cannot totally control the outcome. There is always a worry that we might be shamed, or not be able to do what we are hoping to do. The good news is that a little bit of stress can be helpful. However, it is important to recognise this stress and ensure that it is kept in proportion. Most people experience pressure, stress and anxiety when it comes to exams, and people deal with it in very different ways.

Lots of people will tell you this, because it's true - exams aren't everything. Whatever happens in your exams, you can still be successful in life afterwards. So if you don't do as well as you'd hoped, try to keep things in perspective. Employers don't just look at your exam scores. They're just as interested in your attitude, your transferable skills and how well you'll get on with other people. Exam success doesn't define you as a person. There's so much more to you and your personality than how well you can tackle a specific exercise that is not always a perfect gauge of your ability in that subject. Think about how far you've come already. Once you've done an exam, try to forget about it. There's nothing you can do about it, and worrying won't change your mark.

What barriers to not performing well in exams?

Make sure you catch up fully with any missed work as this may have a knock-on affect to your understanding to future studies.

Lack of preparation
Try to spread your revision and work out throughout the year by setting out a few hours a week to recap what you have learnt that week.

Late nights
Make sure you get enough sleep each night on college days so your mind is fresh and you are able to concentrate in class.

Lack of belief
Always believe in yourself and your ability, if you are finding things difficult with work or in class, always talk to your teacher early on so they can clarify or support you further to make sense of things.

Case study

"I came to college because my old school did not offer the subjects that I wanted to study to progress on to university. I really found it hard at first especially the law A Level as I was basically starting from scratch and did not have the subject knowledge in this subject. I was afraid to ask for help as I did not want people to know I was struggling.

"Because I did not fully understand it I avoided handing work in making excuses. I then started to miss my class because it was easier to stop going than face the workload that I had accumulated in this subject. I told my teacher that I was stressed and that I had problems at home.

"He referred me to a support coach and when we met I felt I was able to tell her everything. We both agreed to get my law teacher involved and they were able to sit down with me and put in an action plan to get caught up with coursework along with some additional subject support to help me make sense of the bits I was struggling with. I passed my law exam and now I’m going on to university I just wished I sought help earlier as just talking to my teacher might have stopped weeks of anxiety.”

Top five tips to performing better in college

  • 1Never skip breakfast
    It is the most important meal of the day and helps with brain function.
  • 2Get organised
    Working out a daily routine and sticking to it is also good for the soul, as you'll feel a lot more in control of how your day pans out. Try to meet the deadlines set as work will only build up.
  • 3Always ask for help
    Don’t struggle getting the right support at the right time is crucial to keeping pace with your studies.
  • 4Exercise every day
    It’s good for the mind and your health in general.
  • 5Make sure you make time for relaxation
    This means rest and not social media and gaming which will make you tired.

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