Ask Sam letter


To Sam


Hi Sam, i am just really worried about my exams. I feel really under pressure to do well especially by my parents which gives me alot of stress. Sometimes when i dont do enough work i immediately go to panic mode. One of the main reasons why i cant study is due to personal issues. I am young carer who cares for my younger brother who was born 24 weeks and has alot of medical problems, my grandma has stage 4 cancer. All these things really upset me and act as a barrier when it comes to studies. i want to apply for Medicine this year but i dont know because of anxiety and all these things if i will be able to reach my ambition. i am so distracted by my surroundings. i failed a year of sixth form already and i am repeating the year again to achieve my goal. I just feel like i am so worthless to achieve it and not as smart as others. I cry about all my issues all the time as I get really tensed and worried.

Many thanks

Ask Sam


Hi there,

Exams can be a really stressful time no matter how much you prepare for them. Some people might feel  the pressure from their teachers and family to do well – sometimes people put that pressure on themselves. It’s good to take a step back and remember that they seem more important than anything else, but, they aren’t more important than your mental and emotional health.

Exams are designed to test how much you have learned about a subject, but they don’t always suit everyone’s learning style. Some people can know a subject very well but not be able to cope with nerves on the day of the test.

The more pressure you put on doing well in an exam, the more stressful it will be for you. Some people do better when under pressure, but many people do worse. When other stressful things are happening in your life – like a family member being ill – then it can just add to the pressure. If you’<s> a</s>re someone who finds it hard to deal with pressure, you’ll need to find a way to cope with it.

Learning what you need to manage might take some practice. For some people being organised and knowing what they are supposed to be revising is useful. Being able to see that you have done everything you set out to do can give you confidence going into the exam itself. Draw up a timetable for revision and do your best to stick with it. Be sure to include time to relax as well.

Try to remember that everyone fails at things from time to time. Life is made up of moments where you try to achieve something - and sometimes it’s not going to work out. This is normal and it’s okay to fail because you can learn from it. If you struggle with one subject, it can help you understand what your strengths are instead and what to do next.

If you fail an exam there are usually other options open to you – like retaking the test or doing a different qualification in the future. You should do the best that you can because even if you don’t get the grade you wanted, you will know that you couldn’t have done more and it will be easier to accept a lower grade.

One final thought to remember is that you probably won’t do as badly as you think you will. When under stress, people tend to imagine the worst which can often be very different from what actually happens.

Thanks for your letter.

Take care.


Need help straight away?

You can talk privately to a counsellor online or call 0800 1111 for free.

Ask me a question

You can ask me about anything you want, there's nothing too big or small. I read every single letter but I can only answer a few each week. My replies are published here on my page.

Write me a letter