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Exams cancelled for my brother

Hi Sam, My younger brother was supposed to do his GCSEs this year and (like my Alevels last year) they got cancelled. He revised really hard for the mocks, more than for other exams and had he had the chance to do his mocks I think he would have done really well. But now he doesn't have the opportunity. He's not very outspoken so in his online lessons he doesn't really say much and I'm worried for him that because generally he doesn't speak so much in class he won't get the grades he deserves and that he would have got in his mocks. I don't know how to help him because I feel like a bad and pushy sister when I try to get him to say more in class and it makes me really angry and upset that he didn't even get to prove how much he's improved in his work over Christmas. How can I  help him and stop feeling angry about the circumstances myself? Thank you, R x

Ask Sam


Hi there,

The pandemic has meant that a lot has changed about school and exams, and it’s okay to feel anxious about what that means for you or someone you care about. You might be worried that you won't get a fair grade or that you've done lots of preparation for nothing. It can help to remind yourself that if exams get cancelled there will be another way to decide what grade you get, and the work you’re doing will go towards that.

The exact way that your brother's exam grades are decided might not be certain yet, but you can still go to his school and his teachers for advice. Teachers might not have all the answers yet but they’re still the best people to go to for support. If they know how anxious your brother is, they can do their best to remember that during lessons and try to help him as best they can. Whether you or someone you know are anxious about the way this year's exam grades will be - it's important to ask for help and support. Childline has lots of advice about how to ask an adult for help, and cope with stress.

Outside of school your brother might need help too. If you can see that he's stressed then he might need your help to distract him from what's happening and take his mind off things for a bit. You could try doing something he enjoys or watch a movie together – or if you want to try something new you could get some activity ideas from the Coping Kit. You could also help him to come up with a plan to show his teacher the extra effort he put in over the holidays. Having your support inside and outside of school will be mean a lot to him, and will help him cope with all the changes.

But it's important to look after your own feelings as well. Supporting someone else isn’t easy. It can make you feel angry or helpless when someone you care about is going through something neither of you have any control over. Not being able to "fix" things for him might make you feel even more frustrated. I think one of the best things you can do for yourself is remember that you're his sister - not his teacher or therapist. What siblings do best is be there for each other - make sure he knows that he has your support, no matter what. Childline has advice that could help about supporting a family member who’s worrying or having mental health issues.

I hope this has helped. If you or your brother want to talk about your worries with someone, you can always talk to a Childline counsellor. Or you can get advice and support from other young people on the message boards.

Take care.


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