Exam Anxiety: how can you help?
Do you know someone who seems to be stressed before exams?
At this time of the year many school children, college students and university students are studying and feeling stressed. Maybe they are revising for long hours and you know that they really want to pass. But exam stress isn’t just confined to young people and people in formal educational settings. Everyone can feel stressed during exam time, that’s normal.
Exams and tests are everywhere in life. People who learn to drive do driving tests. At work people do tests whether its accountancy, nursing, or banking or some other career. Exams and tests are necessary as we need to know what people can do, what standards are across an industry and to help us to know our own levels of knowledge and skills.
Exams and tests are measures that assess the person’s knowledge and skills at a set point. But they can never measure everything that a person has learnt.
If you are a parent, other relative or friend you can help the person that seems stressed with exams or tests by showing them that you care.
How would I know if someone was stressed about exams?
People who are stressed can show emotional and physical signs. They feel under pressure. Perhaps they are overwhelmed with the amount of work that they have got to tackle. Some people ignore the fact that they have an exam coming up. Other people sit down to study but end up procrastinating so never getting anything done. Some people keep negative thoughts going by keep telling themselves that they won’t pass because they are not good enough. They might say these things to you.
A lot of stress can lead to anxiety issues. But you are not expected to diagnose or be an expert. However you may have noticed things such as the person isn’t sleeping very well or they are moody or just studying so intensely that they have stopped all the things that they like doing in life. Maybe an adult might drink more alcohol or smoke more when they are studying. The person may also tell you that they are feeling stressed about their exams.
How can you help someone who is stressed with exams?
Good communication is vital. Here are 5 tips to make it easier to communicate.
- Choose a good place and time to talk to the person and know your purpose.
- Listen. Really listen so you can pick up any difficulties that the person has.
- Check that you have heard what they have said and acknowledge it. For example, say ‘Thanks for telling me that. It seems to me that you are having difficulties with XXX.’
- Help the person to know where they can get help from or if you are an expert in a subject offer to help. If they need help from someone else don’t give advice, rather give options. For example, you could say that a teacher might be able to help with that, or have you thought about talking to your doctor about your headaches. Obviously if there are health issues and you are a parent taking your child to the doctor is an important step. Finally, ask if there is anything else that you can do to help.
Remember that you are helping that person by being there. Communicate well with this person because you care about them. And if you feel that they need more help find out who else could assist.