It’s here. We avoided it as long as we could, but there’s no escape. That’s right, it’s exam season. If you’re taking your GCSEs, your A-levels, or any end-of-year exams, you’re probably feeling somewhat stressed. Handily, the fates have aligned for you because 14-20 May is also Mental Health Awareness Week, and that this year’s topic is stress. HOW CONVENIENT.
Stress affects a fair few people, so if you’re feeling it, don’t worry, you’re not alone. In fact, in the past year, 74% of people in the UK have felt so stressed they have been overwhelmed or unable to cope. The key is learning how to manage that stress so it doesn’t get on top of you, and that’s especially important during exam season.
We spoke to Head of Year 13 at the Thomas Hardye School, Richard Nicholls, about the advice he gives to his students when it comes to exams, and the best way to get through them. Turns out, it’s not all about studying…
“The night before your exam, make sure you chill out and relax. You can flick through your notes if you want, but in reality your revision is all done by that point. Working hard late into the night and trying to cram is never a good strategy. All it’ll do is make you feel more stressed, tired, and less prepared on the day.
“When you’re in your exam, don’t worry about what anyone else is doing – they’re not going to be worrying about you either! Think about your exams as if they’re any other piece of work you’ve done over the year, and don’t worry about failing – whatever that means.
“If you do find yourself starting to panic in an exam, I often tell my students to try 7/11 breathing. It’s when you breathe in for a count of seven, and then breathe out for a count of 11. Deep, controlled breathing will help you calm down and get some oxygen going through your blood, which’ll help you to think.
“Remember, at the end of the day if a result isn’t as good as you’d hoped, it’s not the end of the world. It just means your path through life might need to take a diversion.”
If you do have exams today, or if they’re coming up, remember to look after yourself. Deep breaths, and don’t worry – you’ve got this.