Exam stress rising concern for young people contacting us

ChildLine offers advice to young people to manage stress during exams

Girl looking down

As exam season approaches, new figures from ChildLine reveal a rise in the number of schoolchildren worried about exams.

ChildLine carried out 3,077 counselling sessions about exam stress to young people last year, a rise of 9 per cent on 2014/15. There was also a rise of 20 per cent of concerns about exam results, with 1,127 counselling sessions compared to 2014/15.

Major themes include:

  • not wanting to disappoint their parents
  • fear of failure
  • general pressures linked to academic achievement.

Stresses about exams can affect young people's ability to sleep, trigger anxiety attacks, depression and tearfulness, and eating disorders. In some cases it also led to self-harm and suicidal feelings.

ChildLine is today launching a new video featuring advice and tips aimed at helping children and young people cope with exams. Six Tips to Managing Exam Stress is available on ChildLine's YouTube channel and is part of a series dedicated to exam season.

Peter Wanless, NSPCC chief executive, said:
"Young people can feel stressed and anxious during exam season which is reflected in the increase in counselling sessions delivered by ChildLine at this time of year. Young people may feel worried or be panicking about revision and exam results but we want to let them know that ChildLine is here to listen however they choose to get in touch. ChildLine also has advice for parents and carers to help ease young people's exam stress and anxieties during the revision period."

"I can’t cope if things get any worse than this. I can’t focus on my work and I have tests coming up that I haven’t prepared for. Everything is just piling on top of me. I know that I just need to make a start, but I get too anxious to think straight, it just feels hopeless."
Teenage boy who called ChildLine

Helping children and young people cope with exams

ChildLine advises that young people:

  • take regular breaks from revising and do some exercise
  • go to bed at a reasonable time and try and get some sleep
  • try to think positively – even if you don't feel like it, a positive attitude will help you during your revision
  • take some water into the test with you if you can — keeping hydrated by drinking water will help you concentrate.

Find more information about beating exam stress and revision. Children and young people can also call ChildLine's free confidential helpline on 0800 1111 or get support from a counsellor online through 1-2-1 chat.

Tips for parents

  • Don’t place unnecessary pressure on your children to gain certain grades. They may feel they have failed if they don’t achieve what they thought was expected of them.
  • Encourage children to take regular breaks, eat snacks and exercise.
  • Help them revise by leaving them the space and time to do so.
  • Be relaxed about chores or untidiness and understand they might be moody. Allow your children to revise at nights if that’s what works best for them, but make sure that they get enough sleep to keep their energy levels up in the day.
  • Be supportive and help your child with their worries by talking to them.

Find more advice on supporting your child with exam stress.