Time to tackle exam stress

Although June may feel like it’s a long way off, starting to prepare for your exams in March is essential. Easter is the usual start of putting a revision plan into force.

How students cope with exams is different for each individual, but there are four markers that highlight a student is under stress:

Consequences: Achieving sufficient GCSE grades for college or sixth-form entry, or the vague understanding that higher GCSE grades are required for a ‘good’ job. If you, your child or a friend is stressing about the consequences of the exam it may be a positive action just to talk through scenarios just in case. If you have a plan B or C for that matter it can take the edge off.

Markers of self-esteem: Students judge themselves on the basis of their grades, a good grade results in high self-esteem. To a greater or lesser extent there has been an internalisation of the message that esteem can be enhanced through educational achievement. Some of us define ourselves by our intellect - take away our opportunity to prove ourselves can lead to anxiety and perhaps depression. Making a student understand that just doing the best they can and it doesn’t make them a bad person if they get a lower grade or fail can help them reframe the situation.

Judgements from others: Criticism from parents can lead students to live a life where they are unfulfilled and unhappy. I know many people who ended up in a form of work they hated because their parents pushed them into it. Letting the student understand that if you want to pursue your dreams you have to work hard, and maybe find other ways to earn income in the interim – think actors waiting on tables.

Fear appeals by teachers: The repeated messages communicated to students over the importance and timing of the GCSEs by their teachers were identified as a trigger for the development of stress in some students. Pressure by schools to be high in the league tables can put extra undue stress on the student as well as the teaching staff.

It’s been known for some time that stress at exam time can bring grades down by one and a half points, where an A* student may end up receiving a B because their minds have gone blank, or worry so much they do not sleep, and therefore don’t take in the revision.

Hypnotherapy can help with exam stress, by bringing down the anxiety levels, by building confidence and self-esteem. By allowing the students to picture themselves as having achieved the results and where that can take them, it can help them focus better. It can aid motivation to revise, as well as focus the attention with time management. Students may defer revision by doing things that help them relax. Going for a run is good and can help consolidate memory, spending time socialising can be helpful but only if now and again. Research has shown that spreading out study sessions instead of cramming the night before works so much better, as does testing oneself. Reading a section over and over again has been found not to aid one’s understanding of a subject.

Students over the years have found hypnosis to help them sleep better, to organise their revision timetables better, to motivate them, to reduce the negative thoughts that comes with being anxious, to stay focused and stop them from becoming withdrawn. From GCSEs to PHDs, from driving tests to interviews, hypnotherapy can improve your performance.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author. All articles published on Hypnotherapy Directory are reviewed by our editorial team.

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Kingston Bagpuize, Oxfordshire, OX13 5AP
Written by Penny Ling, BA DHP SFBT CBT SFBTSUP
Kingston Bagpuize, Oxfordshire, OX13 5AP

Penny Ling is an experienced solution focused hypnotherapist specialising in fears and phobias and many anxiety related problems in between. Based in Oxford, she regularly sees students from the University as well as students revising for GCSE and A levels. She works in a GP practice in Central Oxford and clinics in Abingdon and Faringdon.

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