20% rise in young people worried about exam results

Childline offers support for teenagers stressed about exams

Worried boy

The number of young people receiving counselling from Childline about their A-Level and GCSE results rose 20% this year, with 1 in 4 of all sessions being delivered in August.

New figures from our helpline show there were 1,127 counselling sessions about exam results stress in 2015-16, up from 937 the previous year1. Girls were 5 times more likely to get in touch than boys.

Unsurprisingly the need for support from Childline peaks in August when exam grades are announced.

"I can’t sleep most nights because I’m constantly thinking about my results and feel like I’ve wasted my summer because this has been in the back of my mind the whole time. I don’t want to feel like a failure."
Teenage boy contacting Childline

Effects of exam stress

Young people contacted Childline about concerns including not wanting to disappoint their parents, fear of failure and pressures linked to academic achievement.

Stress about exam results can:

  • affect young people's ability to sleep
  • trigger anxiety attacks, depression or eating disorders
  • lead to self-harm and suicidal feelings in some cases
  • make pre-existing mental health conditions worse.

Peter Wanless, NSPCC Chief Executive, said:
"These figures show that the pressure to perform well in exams is being felt by young people across the country and this can be difficult for them to handle.

"If they want to talk Childline is always here to listen. It's important to remember there is life beyond exam results. Disappointing grades are not the end of the world, even if it doesn't feel that way at the time."

Young people can visit the Childline website for advice on coping with exam results.

"I’m worried about getting my AS results because I think I might have failed. I don’t have anyone to talk to about this at the moment, but speaking to Childline has helped me and I feel inspired to try to work through things."
Teenage girl who contacted Childline


  1. 11,127 counselling session relating to exam results stress were carried out in 2015/16 compared with 937 counselling sessions in 2014-15 (an increase of 20%).