How to beat exam stress

Apr 2012
Helping children to create a revision timetable will ensure that they can adequately manage their workload before exam week.

Children may become increasingly anxious in the weeks leading up to Key Stage 1 and Key Stage 2 SATs tests in reading, writing and maths.

For Year 6 pupils, in particular, this can be a particularly nerve-wracking time as they may need to achieve certain grades to get into their secondary school of choice. There are a number of ways that parents can work together with children to ease stress during exam time, including the techniques listed below:

Be well prepared
Helping children to create a revision timetable will ensure that they can adequately manage their workload. Ask your child's school or teacher for guidance, as they may have set templates for you to modify or they may be able to provide guidance on how many hours of revision should be devoted to particular subjects.

Using revisions cards, books and files to organise revision notes will help to ensure that your child doesn't become overwhelmed with the barrage of study material they receive during this period.

Familiarising themselves with the format and question style of previous past papers, will also help to ensure that children are not thrown off by test formats. Schools will often do this in class, so this may only need to be practiced briefly at home.

Finding a study routine that suits your child (whether it is short periods with regular breaks or longer periods of uninterrupted study) will ensure that they don't get frustrated with the demands of their schedule.

Remind children that they can only try their hardest
Although it's always important to encourage children to fulfil their potential, remind them that the most important thing is that they complete tests to the best of their ability.

Reassuring children that you will be happy with their test results regardless of the outcome will remove their concerns about exam week.

Discourage children from sharing their answers after an exam with peers as this may lead them to form incorrect conclusions about their performance in an exam.

Creating down time
Children may become completely absorbed in the exam process, but it's important that they give themselves time to unwind. Encourage children to give themselves weekly or daily incentives when they have stuck to their revision timetable.

A revision timetable will also ensure that children finish their work at a fixed time and that they are able to switch off to devote time for their interests and to spend time with family and friends.