5 fabulous exam tips for the final push…

Nearly there – the exam period is in full swing and all that revision should be paying off. Well, we hope so. It is a tough time for anyone finishing a school or college year; whilst others can relax and enjoy the early summer sun, there is last minute revision to be done and the inevitable nerves to deal with.

So, we thought we would share the exam tips we have been posting over the past few weeks on an ‘omnibus’ blog post, offering you the opportunity to remind yourself of all those things that are important over the coming weeks as the exams end and the results come in…

Exams1

Find a revision buddy

Exam stress is tough- Try not to compare

Eatingwellexams

This final tip is very important. It is easy to forget, when under such tremendous pressure, that the results of the exams you are sweating over will not define the rest of your life. It might be difficult, but try a little mindfulness meditation and remember, whatever happens there is still a way forward.

Exam tip 5

And after those exams are over, read our post on dealing with those post-exam feelings that can be surprisingly difficult to cope with.

Good luck – we have everything crossed for you!

 

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Beating the stress of exams with the NSPCC

CaptureEach year we nominate a charity to benefit from our fundraising events and because of our commitment to ending of child abuse and the need to support the mental health of children and young adults we have, for the past three years, supported the NSPCC. Their campaigns are always targeted and committed to the prevention of cruelty to children and the support they offer in practical terms is fantastic. So, as we were looking to add to the previous posts we have written on dealing with the stress of exams we were pleased to see that the NSPCC has produced a leaflet for young people facing a tough few weeks of GCSEs and A Levels, as well as University examinations.

‘Beat Exam Stress ‘ is a colourful brochure filled with top tips to get anyone through May and June as healthily and successfully as possible. It is also brilliant for parents, who can watch out for signs of overload and perhaps take steps to intervene if things get tough.

Of course it includes the obvious (so much easier to swallow from the NSPCC that from a parent one suspects!) – don’t leave revision to the last minute, don’t cram the night before, don’t avoid subjects you find tough and so on. But there are some less obvious hints which need support from the adults in the household:

‘Try to talk to your family about how they can make studying a little easier for you – for example, by agreeing times when you can have your own space, when they will try to be a little quieter around the house and when you’d rather not be disturbed (except perhaps for the occasional treat,such as a drink or snack)’

This is so important  – many adults forget how worried they were when they took their own qualifications and a little thought can make the environment for revision so much more positive. As can avoiding confrontation – it is likely that exam stress will shorten fuses and as an adult, stepping back and remembering that exams are over in a few short weeks can be the best thing you can do for a child.

The leaflet also offers hints for the big days themselves, with checklists of things to remember and strategies for ensuring you can answer the questions on the paper to the best of your ability. Tips for dealing with anxiety sit alongside healthy eating and learning to pace yourself.

So we think this leaflet is terrific, covering all the practicalities without ignoring the emotional impact of exam time. The last page offers websites and helplines if further support is needed.

Here at The Terrace we have written about ensuring you pamper yourself, take a break and eat healthily over the next few weeks, as well as dealing healthily with the end of exams, when it is tempting to adopt destructive behaviours in the name of celebration.

The best thing to remember is, however, that exams don’t last forever!

Exam results: some quick tips to deal with the stress of results day & beyond

emoticons1Well today was the day for thousands of young people waiting for GCSE results, last week it was A and AS level results. Both can make or break ambitions for further education or training places. It can be a time of euphoria or despair and whatever the outcome it is important to take care of yourself, your friends and in a parent’s case, your children’s health and well-being.

Firstly, make sure you talk about your feelings, to friends, parents, carers. We have heard the tragic story of Robin Williams this week, an incredibly and naturally funny man who many never realised suffered terribly from the depression that caused him to take his own life. Lots of young people will not like to show their disappointment; will put on a brave face. If you know someone like this, encourage them to open up. It isn’t easy, but neither is it easy to admit you are struggling when those around you are celebrating your success. Just try to notice who may be missing….

If your results do not enable you to take your first choice place, consider your response carefully and know that this is a setback, not the end of the world. There are so many options available now and schools have counsellors available to help you through the maze of possibilities – one of which may not have previously occurred to you. Just because all your mates have gone to Uni it doesn’t mean you have to, but if you want to go through clearing don’t assume you won’t get onto a ‘good’ course. Many of the top universities still have places available, but don’t rush onto a course that may not be right for you. Perhaps an unplanned gap year will help you make a decision?

If you have done well and are planning a celebration, watch your alcohol intake. It may seem boring but at times like this people can make the wrong choices, placing themselves in danger just as their future seems so bright.

There are many other ways to help yourselves and those you care about and if you or anyone you know needs support go to www.youngminds.org.uk, www.mind.org.uk or  www.time-to-change.org.uk for example.

Take care of yourself. You have a long life ahead of you in which to achieve all manner of wonderful things. Whatever today has brought, it is just the beginning….

Dealing with exam stress – a guide for parents & teens

exam_stress-adviceThere are quite a number of websites that work to make exam time less stressful for the children and young people taking them.  BBC Radio 1 has a particularly good one. Late spring, a time of year that should be full of hope and enjoyment can become weeks of torture as school exams, GCSEs and A Levels, as well as University exams, pile on the anxiety. If your family is host to a beleaguered exam sitter, then our own Sue-Claire at Counselling for Clarity sent the following invaluable tips for them:

– Keep communicating/talking with peer group/friends/family, don’t keep all your worries inside.
– Find a creative outlet in between revision. Shake out, walk,dance, paint, write, play or listen to music
– Try not to compare yourself with others. You are unique. Remember what people like about you as a starting point for your confidence
– Group revision/online discussion/audio tapes/revision cards really do help. You are not alone

But this post is by way of offering support to the family and friends best able to help those taking exams. Over the past week we have offered exam tips on our Facebook page. Today we thought we would post a digest of those suggestions, along with some more, to see you through the weekend and beyond.

1.) For those of you who are getting embattled, try to reduce the pressure.You can do this by first reducing the pressure in yourself.  Take a moment to think about how you are coming across. Do you feel tight and focused on ‘getting the job done’ rather than thinking about how your child is responding? If you are – don’t worry!  Most of us do this naturally.

2.) To approach things differently, stop and reflect and change how you are being with yourself and with your child/ren. Soften your attitude, change your tone and then ask your child/ren – how is this going for them? How do they feel about their revision programme and would they like any help?  If so, what help would they like? This is ALL focused on them and not on how you would do it.

3.) If you are finding that your child is getting too focused, talk to them about it – distraction can be positive. Offer a trip to the cinema; encourage fresh air and exercise daily; bake a cake. There should be a pulse to working and taking time out. So – talk about coming and going. Remember striving too hard for perfection can create an over-anxious child – which in turn can work against them in the exam.

4.) Suggest to your child that after an exam, whether it has gone well or not – they don’t talk about it in detail to their peers. It can cause unnecessary worry. They should just say ‘it was OK’ and leave it at that. relax

5.) Remember, that after a period of tension we all have a period of transition when we do not really know what to do with ourselves . This is a time when people of any age are vulnerable to getting drunk and behaving in ways they would not otherwise consider appropriate. So make sure everyone has some time to unwind. A day away can be a tonic, so just do something different.

We really hope these help. It is never an easy time, but we can minimise the stress and anxiety exams impose on us. Good luck!