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Sunday, May 9, 1999 Published at 04:47 GMT 05:47 UK


Taking the stress out of exams

Exams can be a stressful time for pupils and families

The exam season is about to begin in the next few weeks, with the prospect of thousands of families nervously entering a period of stress and anxiety.

Pupils will begin sitting GCSE exams from May 24, followed two weeks later by A level papers. In these summer weeks, pressures will grow as ambitions for getting a job, staying on at school or finding a place at university are put to the test.

[ image: Parents should support children's revision, rather than increase pressure]
Parents should support children's revision, rather than increase pressure
But what advice is there for pupils wanting to make sure that their chances of success are not undermined by exam nerves or poor revision?

ChildLine, the charity which offers confidential advice for young people, has published its own suggestions for both parents and pupils for taking as much stress as possible out of exams.

According to ChildLine, young people facing exams should recognise the importance of performing well, but should remember "that there is a life beyond revision and exams".

The charity, which tackles exam stress alongside such other anxieties as bullying and child abuse, says pupils should "try to talk to their family about how they can make studying a little easier", such as finding a place for revision that will not be disturbed.

[ image: Careful preparation will give candidates more confidence]
Careful preparation will give candidates more confidence
Parents are advised to show an interest in children's preparations for exams, but in a way that does not add to the pressure.

In a similar manner, ChildLine urges parents to offer support rather than criticism if they have concerns over children's exam preparations.

For both pupils and parents, ChildLine says that they should not be afraid to seek help when there are questions about school work, or problems with over-anxiousness that cannot be readily resolved.

Advice for pupils:

  • Prepare a revision timetable - your teacher should be able to help you with this.
  • Make your books, notes and essays easier to use with notes, headings, sub-headings, highlighting and revision cards.
  • Everyone revises differently - find out the routine that suits you best - morning or night, short bursts or longer revision sessions.
  • Take notes of important points when revising as an aid for future revision.
  • Try explaining the answers to tricky questions to someone else, or look at past exam papers and try answering some of the questions.
  • Ask for help if there are things you do not understand.
  • If you're feeling stressed out, talk to someone.

Advice for parents:

  • Give your support, not criticism.
  • Make it easier for your child to study.
  • Keep things in perspective.
  • Get advice from the experts if you are worried.

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