Summer is coming! Longer days and warmer weather are on the horizon – but so are exams. SATs, GCSEs and A Levels can all be stressful for both students and teachers. So how do you help students manage the stress that comes with sitting an exam, at the same time as getting good results?
Here are our top tips to share with your pupils and students to help them manage exam stress
Take care of your body to nourish your brain
No one’s brain can function well if their body is not taken care of. Encourage your students to eat a balanced diet full of nutrient rich foods, get enough sleep with early nights and lay ins at the weekend if they need it, and get exercise, even if that’s walking to school. A healthy body is much more able to cope with stresses, and a nourished and rested brain can focus more on the task in hand.
Break it down with a revision timetable
Revising a whole year or two’s syllabus can seem overwhelming, and it’s this that causes some of the most stress. Break down the syllabus into modules and subjects, and work with your students to create a timetable or plan that allows them to tick off a handful of tasks every day. Prioritising the exams that are coming up first and the topics they are least confident about can help. There is the age old cliche that students spend more time colour coding their revision timetable than actually revising, and you don’t want them to waste too much time on this, so perhaps at the start of the term have a planning lesson.
Collaborate and do group revision
We’re social beings and having support helps us build confidence. But studies have also shown that revising in groups can aid memory recall and success. It’s important to be able to work alone – for one, that’s how the exam will be conducted – but encourage students to also get together with others for study sessions.
Don’t compare and despair
It’s easy to get sucked into comparing with others and lots of the stress comes from worrying about how others are doing and if their marks will be as good. Remind every student that they are unique and have skills and strengths. They’re on their own path with their own goals, and that is all that matters.
Have fun and take revision breaks
Make sure your students know that they don’t have to be studying 24/7. Time out is important too. That might be watching a film with family, hanging out with friends, going for a walk with some music on, or reading a book. A five minute break to stretch every hour also works wonders!
What are your strategies for helping students manage exam stress? We’d love to hear them!