Exam stress - don’t suffer in silence

Childline is urging young people worried about their GCSE and A-Level grades to contact the service

exam stress results dayExams are a worrying time for children and young people, and waiting for results can be particularly difficult.

As A level results day arrives, new figures from Childline show there’s been a rise of 15% in the last year in the number of counselling sessions with children and teenagers who are apprehensive about their exam results and what to do next1.

In 2017/18, there were 1,298 sessions for children and teenagers on this subject. Concern was highest in August 2017, with just under a quarter of all counselling sessions related to exam stress happening in the month when GCSE and A-Level results are published.

Support for young people

Figures released today by the NSPCC-supported service also showed that girls are much more likely to ask for help, featuring in 74% of all Childline counselling sessions on this issue.

Dame Esther Rantzen, founder and president of Childline said: “During the exam result period it is important that young people feel very supported by their family, friends and school. They should always remember that Childline is there for them if they don’t know who else they can talk to. Don’t hesitate to contact us, if it matters to you then it matters to us.”

Struggling to cope

Young people told counsellors they were worried about their results stopping them from going to university, with many expressing concerns about sharing them with their parents and teachers. Others said they were struggling to cope as they waited for their grades.

One boy who contacted Childline said: “I’m feeling really depressed and stressed out at the moment. I’m worried about getting my A-level results. I don’t think I will get the marks I need to get into my chosen university, and there’s loads of pressure on me from my teachers to do well. I don’t have anyone to talk to about it because I don’t want to let anyone down.”

Exam stress Peter WanlessNSPCC chief executive Peter Wanless said:
“We know that lots of young people struggle with the pressure of exam results season. The desire to get good grades and secure university places can feel like a lot to bear.

“We are also aware that once teenagers have got their results they can feel overwhelmed by what comes next, especially if they don’t get the grades they were hoping for.

“It’s important they share how they are feeling and discuss their options with a friend, trusted adult or Childline.”

Tips for teens

Childline has the following advice for young people worried about their results:

    • Don’t panic if you don't get the results you were hoping for.
    • You may have to make some tough decisions but remember you always have options and you can get help.
    • Everyone is different so try not to compare your results to your friends or classmates.
    • If you're disappointed with your results it can help to talk to a teacher or someone you trust about how you’re feeling.

Tips for parents and carers

Advice from the NSPCC for parents and carers includes:

    • Try not to place pressure on your children to gain certain grades
    • Your child may find it hard to talk to you about their results so be patient and supportive until they feel ready to open up about how they feel.
    • Encourage your child to take their time to think about what they want to do next. There’s no need to rush into a decision straightaway.
    • Help them think about their choices by writing down a list of pros and cons for each of their options.

Children and young people can contact Childline for free, confidential support and advice, 24 hours a day on 0800 1111 or at www.childline.org.uk.

Worried about a child?

Contact our trained helpline counsellors for help, advice and support.

0808 800 5000

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  1. From 1 April 2017 to 31 March 2018 there were 1,298 Childline counselling sessions about exam stress. In 2016/17 the total was 1,133.