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To Sam

Stress/worry about exams afterwards

So I've nearly finished my GCSE exams, and so many people (e.g. teachers, parents, friends) think that the stress will end there. However, I feel like I get more stressed after the exam. I keep stressing because I keep thinking I've got loads wrong. This leads to me going over everything that went wrong in my exam, and thinking that I've failed. For example, in my english exam, I keep thinking about all the things that I could have written but I didn't or my chemistry and physics exams where I know I've got things wrong.

I don't know what do, I just keep thinking about it, and it's getting me really down. When I talk to my parents they tell me 'they will be proud of me no matter what', but deep down I know they will be disaapointed if I get a bad grade. I just want to make them proud.

How can I get myself to stop thinking about all that I've done wrong?

Ask Sam


Hi there,

Thanks for your letter – it sounds like you are really struggling with your feelings about your exams and what you are saying makes a lot of sense. It’s very natural to look back and wonder what you could have done better or wishing you did something a little bit different. At this time of year a lot of young people are concerned about exams, it is normal to feel this way and we have to know when this feeling is getting too much for us. I am glad you have been able to write me this letter.

The important thing to remember though is that no one can change the past – but we can always learn from it. It’s really great to hear that your parents feel that way – it sounds like they really care about you. Of course parents want their children to do well – it’s part of wanting your children to be happy, but that doesn’t mean that their love for you will change if you don’t get the grades you wanted.

Perhaps think about things this way – how is it helpful to worry about how you did?....and how will you feel about worrying when you end up doing really well? Will you regret spending this time feeling anxious when you could have been relaxing and doing fun things instead? Even if your grades aren’t what you hoped…do you think that you would want to look back at this time and think you did the right thing worrying about it?

Whatever happens with your grades – you did your best on the day and that is all anyone can ask from you. It sounds like you are really hard on yourself – and it could be making you feel low. Maybe you can learn from this that it’s important to be a bit more gentle with yourself – maybe it’s okay if you didn’t get the perfect grades, maybe it means that you will make different choices about what you want to do in your life.

Many people find that in life there will be many more times when they look back and think ‘I wish I did this better…’ or ‘I wish I did this differently…’ – that’s okay, because the next time that situation comes around you’re going to be better able to handle it.  

I hope this helps a little bit but if you do want to talk more, please feel free to contact our Childline counsellors. Perhaps you could speak to them about how you can distract yourself from thinking about this so much and talk to them about how you're feeling. You could also visit the ChildLine message boards where young people with similar worries talk about their experiences and problems and share ways of dealing with their worries.

Take care,


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