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Cirencester Deer Park School

Cirencester Deer Park School

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BBC YOung Reporter: Exam Stress

The stress of exams

Story by our BBC Young Reporters - Evie, Gabriela and Maisy - on Wednesday 6 March 2019.

Many students get stressed when revising for their GCSEs and forget to take time for themselves to help reduce stress levels.

The first signs of anxiety are irritability and sleep problems. Too much stress can lead to issues such as anxiety, dry mouth, churning stomach, palpitations, sweating, shortness of breath and depression. Depression can then lead to a loss in effort and can lead to students not putting effort into classes and revision, meaning that they become more stressed and become more depressed making it a cycle that is hard to escape.

At Cirencester Deer Park School, as Year 11s get closer to their GCSE exams, we asked Mr Johnson (Head of School), Mr Germaine (ICT and Business Teacher) and Mrs McPherson (Inclusion Team Leader) for their tips on how to reduce exam stress:

  1. Being prepared is very important and having a plan is essential, otherwise you will not  be organised and are much more likely to get stressed.
  2. Sleep is vital - most teenagers need 8-10 hours each night. When you study and then go to sleep, that is when you really take in all of your revision.
  3. Planning time to relax is good - everyone needs a break, even if you think you don’t have the time.
  4. If you are stressed, it is good to talk to someone about it, because then you get it off your chest and they can help you, whether you talk to family, friends or someone at school.
  5. Certain foods will help you relax: milk, dark chocolate, seafood, banana and avocado, brown rice, tea and fruits. A balanced diet is important for mental and physical health.
  6. Find a way of revising that works for you: if you’re revising in a way that you think should work but doesn’t feel comfortable, then you are not giving yourself the best chance.
  7. Music is a good way to calm down and de-stress, whether listening to it or playing it.
  8. Exercise - whether going for a walk, a run, playing football, or simply some yoga stretches, exercise makes you feel better about yourself and can help clear away stress.
  9. A good guide is to do 20 minutes of revising and then have a 10 minute break.

For further help and advice, see the NHS Tips on Surviving Exams.