Ask Sam letter


To Sam

Exams and OCD


Over the last year my OCD has gotten really out of hand. I’m on the road to treatment as I went to my GP and am on the waiting list for CAMHS, but it’s so long that I won’t see anyone until after my exams.

It’s a really tough time which is interfering with my revision for GCSEs, which adds to my stress which adds to how bad my mental health problems get which makes it harder to work.

A lot of my OCD things also take a lot of time during the exams, such as constantly checking everything on my desk is straight. The routines take up so much of my time and it all means I’m doing so much worse in mock exams than I should be doing and I’m so scared about the real exams because they are so important and I want to do my best but I also don’t want to have a complete mental breakdown.

What do I do?

Ask Sam


Hi there,

Exams can be stressful at any time but when also trying to cope with a health problem it can feel impossible. Your school should do everything they can to make sure you have a fair chance to take the exam. This might mean talking to them about your problems and making sure they are aware of what's happening. The more your school know, the more they can help you.

Lots of people get stressed around exam time - it can feel like there’s a lot of pressure to do well. This pressure can be felt before, during and after an exam so it's important to look after yourself. There are also things you can do to help you prepare for exams and make yourself feel better, like reading your notes and getting a good night’s sleep.

In your case I can see that you have the added worry of how your mental health might affect your performance during the exam. Getting an appointment with CAMHS is a great step to have taken and you’re now on your way to getting support for Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD). To make sure you get the help you need during your exams, it’s important to also tell your school. Explaining the situation to them early should give them time to talk about what help they can give you. You might want to ask a parent or an adult you trust to speak to your school with you.

Before going to talk to your school it might help to think about what you would like them to do. Try and think about what would make an exam easier for you. This might be being allowed time to enter the exam hall earlier and set your desk up so that when it's time to start the exam you have already prepared. When you have decided what your school could do to help, write that down and take it with you when you go to see them.

OCD is a type of anxiety disorder and we have some information about managing anxiety on our website. You can also find out more about OCD on YoungMinds.

I'm really glad you sent me this letter, I hope writing it and the response I've given has helped you. And it’s good to remember that you can always get in touch with one of our counsellors to talk about your feelings.

Take care.


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