For the past 4 months, I’ve been writing and talking about impending exam stress. I’ve provided tips to both parents and students alike, as well as providing revision guides, cue cards and various other elements to help in this stressful time.
Meanwhile, I’ve been working with students of various levels of ability, to prepare them for success. As you will know from me by now, I put a lot of emphasis on confidence and mindset in working with my students, which year on year, reaps huge benefits.
Time waits for nobody. We’re here and there’s nothing to do but dig in, do your best and await the results.
So, it’s with more than a slightly raised eyebrow, that I’ve seen at least two tutors appear in the media, one a ‘tutor to the stars’, talking about exam stress and what to do as a parent. A little late to the party, I’d say.
One can’t help but wonder, where have you been? It’s all over bar the shouting at this point! With the hard work done, we’re now in to dotting the I’s and crossing the T’s. Sure, there’s always a little cramming, but for many a student that’s more a rite of passage than a genuinely useful tool.
Now, I know what you may be thinking… He’s just jealous of the media coverage. And you know what? I probably wouldn’t refuse a slot on the newscaster’s couch. However, if you know me even a little bit, you’ll know what I’m about and where my motivations lay, as well as my views on social mobility.
One thing it isn’t about is sound bites. What do the news stories focus on? Exam stress. Never the causes, nor the current state of education, and rarely the outlook for our future graduates. No, it’ll be about stress as if it’s an entity in its own right, and there are always a few people ready to make it so.
The other thing to be completely clear on, with the exams no upon us, it isn’t about parents either. Of course, there needs to be support, time and space given to your children to enable them to study. They’ll also need to be a bit (OK, a lot) of flexibility in what’s acceptable as the angst inevitably rises! But really Mums and Dads, you’ve done your bit.
In my experience, exam stress isn’t so much caused by the looming exams themselves.
Usually, there are two key causes:
Firstly, a lack of preparation. As we’ve already said, time waits for no-one and you just can’t wind the clock back and create more meaningful studies or revision planning.
Secondly, the huge weight of expectation placed upon students to gain top grades.
It isn’t about the grades in isolation, of course. The grades of the GCSE subjects impact on A Level choices, and the results of A Levels impact upon the chances of gaining entry to the universities of choice.
My advice to those students who are stressed, particularly those that haven’t put the work in, or who have struggled is this: Do your best with the time you have remaining prior to your exams, and do your utmost to complete the papers to the best of your ability.
Nobody can ask more of you that that.
To those who are feeling the pressure because of the subsequent impact on choices, I say this. Focus on one step at a time. Complete your revision, get plenty of rest and then simply do the very thing you’ve been studying for:
Show the examiners what you’ve learned and get the stellar grades you deserve in the process.
This is your time to shine.