Ask Sam letter


To Sam

I'm really, really scared for my Grade 5 Clarinet Exam

Hi Sam,

Im 12 years old, and I have been playing the clarinet for 3 1/2 years now. I have never done a grading before, but I was going to do a grade 4 exam last summer, but I backed out of it at the last minute. We (my friend and I that I share the music lesson with) have just moved into secondary school, and now have a new, better teacher than last year, and she has been getting us ready for our grade 5. My friend did her 4 exam last year and she is not that nervous because she has done it before and knows what's coming. I however, have never done a music exam before in my life, and I am going in for a grade 5 at 12 years old, not having any exam experience before. Therefore, I am so scared and worried for it, and, we have already paid for me to do it, so I can't back out at all this time.

I'm sorry if Im just being utterly stupid and scared, but I really am worried about this, seeing as there are only 8 grades, and my first one is going to be grade 5. Sorry again

Thank you

Ask Sam


Hi there,

It’s very natural to feel scared of exams. Whether it’s your first exam, or one of several, you might wonder what it’s going to be like when you get in the exam. 

Taking exams can be a really stressful process. The preparation, the pressure during the exam, then afterwards we can find ourselves wondering how we did and what the results may be. This can make us feel very anxious, but there are things you can do to feel more prepared.

Your teacher may understand what a difficult time you’ve got coming up. Perhaps you could talk to them about how you feel. They may be able to offer you the reassurance and encouragement that you feel you need. After all they know you, and will have been supporting you with your progress.

Whilst exams are important, it’s always important to remember that there are always different options and choices whatever the exam result maybe. Some people feel happy with the result they got, whilst others may like to try again or others may like to find an alternative idea to try.

Not getting what you want can be disappointing, but there’s always support for you. You might be able to see how much you learnt going through the experience you might not have before. This can help you in future exams and build your confidence for other things.

The more exams you take, the more you know what to expect but it’s often still a good idea to talk things through with friends who may be feeling just like you are.

A great place to talk about this would also be the message boards where young people support each other with feelings around exams

All you can do is try your best – if you do that, it’s something you can be proud of, no matter what the end result is.

Take care,

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