With exam season creeping up, many young people may be feeling anxious about the possibility of failing, being under prepared and experiencing pressure from themselves, their peers or their families to achieve high grades.
St Edward's School Cheltenham offers useful advice to help young people prepare for exams and feel more in control.
Headmaster, Matthew Burke, says that the first step to reduce exam stress is to prepare, in a healthy way, prioritising health and wellbeing during the process — this includes starting early, creating a study schedule, getting enough sleep, eating well, staying hydrated, taking breaks, exercising and practicing self-care.
'Cramming the night before an exam can increase stress and anxiety, so start studying well in advance to avoid last-minute panic.
'Create a study schedule that includes breaks for meals, exercise and relaxation. This will help you stay on track, avoid burnout and help you feel as best prepared as possible.
'Exam stress can take a toll on your mental health, so prioritise self-care activities that help you relax and reduce anxiety, such as meditation, deep breathing exercises or taking a bath.
'Remember, taking care of yourself is essential for exam success. By prioritising your health and wellbeing, you'll be better equipped to handle the challenges of exam preparation and perform your best on test day.'
St Edward's recognises that exam stress and anxiety can have a significant impact on students's academic performance and overall wellbeing. It has produced a range of resources and support services to help students manage these challenges.
This includes on-site counsellors who provide individual or group counselling and workshops to help students cope with anxiety, depression and other mental-health concerns; a wellbeing hub, offering a range of services, including medical care and wellness programming to support students's physical and mental health; plus, pastoral care across the board.
St. Edward's also offers academic support services such as tutoring, study groups and academic coaching to help students improve their study habits and prepare for exams more effectively.
'We provide workshops from Year 7 right through to Upper 6th on topics such as memory techniques, study skills, how to revise and how to ace examinations.
'From Year 10 to Upper 6th, our
students also have two sets of internal examinations per year in the same venue, and as close to the same conditions they will experience in the summer of Year
11 and Upper 6th, with
a view to it simply being what they do; associating positive experiences with the venue in the hope they will
be as relaxed when it comes to the actual GCSE and A Level examinations.'
Burke also says that teachers and schools can play a crucial role in helping students combat stress, and that schools across the county should look to create a positive learning environment, teaching stress management skills, provide academic support, offer mental health services and reduce academic pressure — supporting students's overall wellbeing and academic success.
'We have all been where are students our now and, for most of us, the results we secured at school do not define who we are now, so it is important to remain positive and reassure them they will be successful – whatever path they choose to follow.'