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To Sam

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Hi Sam,
I know you have got loads of letters about exams already, but I feel like I actually need to write down what I feel like.. Do you get what I mean?
Tomorrow I will be taking my first SATs test which is English. I like English alot, but I feel REALLY pressured about doing it! And I don't know why I am so scared. Yesterday I was crying about it, but I don't know why... I feel so scared about SATs and I am worried about going to my new school and getting in a really low group there with none of my best friends. I feel all over the place and stressed and oh i can't describe it!
Please reply Sam, so I feel more reassured.
Thank you, and sorry for all the fuss!
Ask Sam

Sam

Hello there,

Thank you for writing to me. I’m sorry I wasn’t able to get back to you before you had your first SATs test, I hope it went well. I receive lots of letters from young people who have concerns about exams and it’s not unusual to feel so overwhelmed that you want to cry. It’s important to remember to try not to be too hard on yourself. All you can do is try your best, and that shouldn’t mean pushing yourself so hard that you end up unwell and unhappy.

It may be that your friends have similar feelings to you. Getting together in pairs or groups and talking about your worries may help and would also let you give each other practical support with revision. Maybe this is something you might think about next time. Teachers are also aware of how stressful exam times can be and should be available to talk to and try to answer any questions or put your mind at ease.

I can hear that knowing you’ll be starting a new school is adding to your anxiety at the moment. Starting a new school can be an exciting opportunity but it can also leave people feeling unsure or overwhelmed. There will be lots of changes, such as being in a new environment, having new teachers and new lessons and meeting new people. Some of these changes will feel positive and others might take a bit of time to get used to. Lots of people worry about moving into different groups from their friends and people they already know. I can hear that you’ve already made some good friends where you are now, so even if you end up in a group where you don’t know anyone, you know you’ve got the skills to make new friends.

You mentioned that you’re feeling under a lot of pressure. Sometimes pressure is something that we put on ourselves, but if this is coming from another person maybe you could talk to them about the effect that it’s having on you. Unless people are aware of how we really feel, it can be difficult for things to change.

Your feelings are really important and I’m really glad that you shared them with me. If you’d like to talk to someone confidentially about your worries, perhaps you could talk to a Childline counsellor. You can do this by calling 0800 1111 for free or logging on for a 1-2-1 chat.

Finally, you may find it useful to read the Exam Stress page in Explore. There’s also some great tips for coping with exams at Supportline and BBC bitesize.

Take care & good luck!

Sam.

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