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COP­ING WITH EXAM STRESS

EXAM re­sults sea­son is here and it can be a stress­ful time. Child­line wants to re­mind peo­ple that no mat­ter what grades they get, the fu­ture is full of pos­si­bil­i­ties.

- You can con­tact Child­line on 0800 11 11, or for on­line ad­vice you can go to child­line.org.uk Productivity · Ageism · Social Interaction · Lifestyle · Ableism · Education · Family · College · Infectious Diseases · Lifehacks · Discrimination · Human Rights · Society · Higher Education · Health Conditions · United Kingdom · England · Scotland · Northern Ireland

The coun­sel­lors at Child­line, a free helpline for chil­dren and teenagers, un­der­stand that exam re­sults sea­son can be a stress­ful time for many young peo­ple. Some worry about not achiev­ing the grades needed for univer­sity or col­lege, while oth­ers feel anx­ious that they will let their fam­ily down.

This year, this feel­ing of anx­i­ety for many has been height­ened as ex­ams across the UK have not taken place due to the coro­n­avirus pan­demic. Be­tween April and July 2020, Child­line de­liv­ered 1,121 coun­selling ses­sions to young peo­ple who were con­cerned about their exam re­sults. Of that num­ber, 751 ses­sions were de­liv­ered to girls, 176 to boys, and for 194 of the ses­sions the gen­der of the child was not given.

Some of the young peo­ple in th­ese coun­selling ses­sions spoke about how they were con­cerned their course­work and pre­dicted grades would not be good enough. Oth­ers said they didn’t feel in con­trol of their grades and some also said they were wor­ried about their fu­ture.

One girl, aged 16 from Eng­land, who con­tacted Child­line said: “Since the GCSE ex­ams got can­celled I have been feel­ing re­ally over­whelmed and stressed. I am so an­noyed be­cause I wish I had done more re­vi­sion for my mock ex­ams – I re­ally messed up on some of them. I just feel like ev­ery­thing is point­less now and don’t re­ally know what to do. If I don’t get de­cent GCSE grades then I won’t get into my school for A lev­els, won’t be able to go to univer­sity and won’t be able to get a job”.

GRADES DON’T DEFINE YOU

Child­line wants to re­mind all teenagers re­ceiv­ing exam re­sults this year that your grades, no mat­ter what they are, do not define you. If you don’t get what you want, there are other op­tions. Firstly, Child­line ad­vises you to speak with a trusted adult, such as a par­ent, teacher or ca­reers ad­vi­sor. Tell them how you are feel­ing, as they can go through the op­tions avail­able to you. Th­ese op­tions may in­clude re-sit­ting the exam, go­ing to an­other univer­sity or col­lege through clear­ing, chang­ing to a sim­i­lar course or tak­ing a year out to go trav­el­ling or do some vol­un­teer work. Child­line also ad­vises you to not com­pare your­self to your friends and take time to re­mind your­self of what you have done well, whether that’s your course­work, re­vi­sion or other parts of your life. If you are wor­ried about shar­ing your grades with your par­ents or carer, it is im­por­tant to re­mem­ber they are there to sup­port you and help you make de­ci­sions. If you’re find­ing it hard to put your feel­ings into words, Child­line sug­gests that you write a let­ter to your par­ents or car­ers, or you could prac­tise what you want to say be­fore­hand, or tell them while you’re with a teacher or friend.

Wendy Robin­son, Ser­vice Head of Child­line, said: ”We un­der­stand that teenagers can some­times feel that their whole fu­ture will be de­ter­mined by the exam re­sults they get, but we want to re­as­sure them that’s not the case. I en­cour­age any young per­son who is wor­ried about their re­sults or doesn’t know what to do or who to talk to if they don’t re­ceive the grades they want, to get in touch with Child­line. Our trained coun­sel­lors are here to sup­port you and no prob­lem is ever too small.”

“Ever since they can­celled ex­ams, I’ve been wor­ry­ing about what my fi­nal re­sults might be. Tonight my wor­ry­ing got worse and I ended up cry­ing and can’t sleep. I didn’t do very well in my pre­lim­i­nar­ies and I’m so wor­ried about ap­ply­ing to univer­sity be­cause I don’t think my grades will get me in. I have been try­ing to calm my­self down for a while now but it just seems to make me even more wor­ried. I don’t re­ally know what to do. It’s not help­ing that I’m stuck in­side for most of the day and I am strug­gling to cope.” Girl, 16, Scot­land

“I am ex­tremely anx­ious af­ter hear­ing the news of not be­ing able to do ex­ams. I’m pan­ick­ing about my A lev­els as I re­ally want to go to univer­sity. I was just fi­nally start­ing to un­der­stand my top­ics be­fore we went into lock­down, so I feel robbed. I know I can al­ways re­peat the year but I would feel em­bar­rassed to do it, even though I know there is noth­ing to be em­bar­rassed about. I am start­ing to think I should see my GP about anx­i­ety, as I feel I would ben­e­fit from see­ing and talk­ing to some­one.” Girl, 17, North­ern Ire­land

“I am feel­ing re­ally anx­ious at the mo­ment. I am wor­ried about what is go­ing to hap­pen in terms of my AS exam re­sults. Our exam board has said we are not go­ing to be do­ing ex­ams and we will be given our AS grade based on other things we have done in school. No­body knows what that is yet and it is so frus­trat­ing. Very lit­tle has been com­mu­ni­cated about this and I have asked for some clar­ity, but none of my teach­ers are re­ply­ing. I do un­der­stand they have a lot of pres­sures but all the at­ten­tion seems to be go­ing on younger pupils who don’t have ex­ams. I try to talk to my par­ents, but they don’t re­ally un­der­stand the sit­u­a­tion. I have tried ev­ery­thing to re­lax, but noth­ing re­ally dis­tracts me from feel­ing anx­ious.” Girl, 17, Wales

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