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Exam stress

Exam stress starts when you feel you can't cope with revision, sitting exams or pressure from your school or family. You can get help and find ways to cope.

Feeling worried about exams?

Exam stress - exam hall The pressure to revise and do well in exams can be very stressful.

You might be worried you are going to fail or that you won't get the grades you need for the course or job you want.

Pressure of exams can make you feel anxious or stressed. This is normal and you can get support. Find out more about coping with anxiety and panic attacks.

It can seem scary to talk about stress or anxiety. You might feel like nobody else is feeling this way. Bottling up stress and trying to deal with it on your own can often make the stress worse. It can really help to talk.


Coping with stress

If you feel stressed about taking exams you aren’t alone in feeling like this – lots of other young people have anxiety at exam time. Check out our message boards where other people share their experiences.

You can get help by talking to someone you trust. You can also
talk to ChildLine. Talking about how you are feeling can reduce the pressure and help you to feel more in control.

Check out our top revision tips.

  • I'm scared I'm going to fail my exams.

    When we feel anxious, we often give ourselves negative messages like: ‘I can’t do this’, ‘I’m useless’ and ‘I’m going to fail’. It can be difficult but try to replace these with encouraging thoughts such as: ‘this is just anxiety, it can’t harm me’ and, ‘relax, concentrate - it's going to be okay’. Picturing how you would like things to go can help you feel more positive. For example, try to imagine yourself turning up to an exam feeling confident and relaxed. You turn over your paper, write down what you do know and come away knowing you tried your best on the day.

    Check out our top revision tips for advice and ideas on preparing for exams.

  • Problems at home make it hard to concentrate. What can I do?

    If your family are arguing or going through a tough time, it can make finding time to revise and concentrate even more difficult. Things affecting your concentration could include:

    - family arguments
    - problems with your girlfriend / boyfriend
    - feeling like you want to hurt yourself
    - bullying
    - depression and feeling sad
    - having to look after people in your family.

    If you feel any of these problems are affecting your work, it is important to tell someone how you feel. This could be a teacher or a friend. In some serious circumstances, your school might be able to make exceptions which they can discuss with you. You can always talk to a ChildLine counsellor. They are there to listen to you and to support you.

  • If I don't get the grades I need, it'll ruin everything.

    It can sometimes feel like your whole future depends on what grades you get. First of all, try not to panic. Even if you don’t get the results you need or expect, you still have options and can get help with any decisions you have to make.

    Remember, exams are important – but they are not the only key to a successful future. Lots of people achieve success in life without doing well in school exams. Read more about your future and making decisions.

  • Everyone expects me to do really well and it's stressing me out.

    There can be a lot of pressure on young people to do well in exams which can cause a lot of stress and anxiety. You might have been predicted certain grades or put into a higher set, and feel if you don’t get the grade you’ll let your teachers or parents down.

    Talking to your parents or teachers about how you feel could help. They might not be aware of how their attitude toward your exams is putting pressure on you. Take a look at the message boards and get advice from other young people who may be in the same situation.

  • My friends never revise, but they always do better than me.

    During exam time, it’s easy to start comparing yourself with your friends, especially when it comes to revision and how well you do in exams. Some people in your class might be bragging about how easy they are finding it all while you might be struggling.

    Not understanding something at first does not mean you are thick or stupid. Everyone learns in different ways and you have to find a way that suits you. Read more advice about revision tips and see what might work for you. Try to focus on your own work and not put yourself down.  

    Some people are more academic than others, but this doesn’t mean your future won’t be successful. There are lots of people who don't do well in exams and go on to be successful in life. Nobody is good at everything, but everybody is good at something.

  • I'm worried about sitting the exam.

    There is nothing wrong with being worried about the actual exam. This is very normal. The more prepared we are, the more confident we feel in being able to cope.

    There are lots of things you can do to get ready for your exams, whether you are taking GCSEs, A Levels, Scottish Highers or another kind of exam.

    You could:
    - find out about revision tips
    - try to take deep breaths and be positive, this can help you keep calm
    - talk to your
    teacher about ways they could support you 
    - ask an adult for help, like a parent, carer, youth leader or sports coach
    - download a revision app or talk to friends about revision tips
    - read our leaflet about beating exam stress
    - talk to a ChildLine counsellor or to other young people on our message boards.

Other sites that can help

Tips for managing exam stress from

Advice for coping with exam stress from CALM, who aim to prevent mental illness in boys and young men.

Anxiety advice from YoungMinds.

Exam stress advice

Get help with exam stress on the message boards, or share your own tips.

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Exam stress 


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