Exam stress and pressure

If you’re feeling stressed about your exams being cancelled, you aren’t alone. Get advice from us and other young people.

Worrying about exams

Finding out that your exams have been cancelled can be scary, especially when you’re not sure how your grades will be decided.

You might be worried about what’s going to happen, or if you’ll have to take your exams again in the future.

You might not be able to talk to your friends as much, or be worried about telling your family or carers. But bottling up stress and trying to deal with it on your own can often make the stress worse. It can really help to talk.

Tips for coping with stress:

  • write down your worries - then tear up the paper away or share how you're feeling with someone you trust 
  • use the Art box to draw a picture of what you want to happen
  • look at our advice about taking care of yourself
  • listen to calming music
  • play a game to take your mind off things.

stressed about
what'll happen with

Find out about exam changes happening because of coronavirus

Dealing with exam stress

There are lots of ways to make exam stress easier:

Coping with pressure

Exams can feel like a lot of pressure. You might need certain grades for a course or job. Or your parents, carers or teachers might be putting pressure on you. You might be putting lots of pressure on yourself as well.

No matter where the pressure is coming from, there are ways to help you cope:

  • Think positively

When we feel anxious, we can start thinking things like ‘I can’t do this’ and ‘I’m going to fail’. It can be difficult, but try to replace these with positive thoughts such as: ‘this is just anxiety, it can’t harm me’ and, ‘relax, concentrate - it's going to be okay’.

  • Be honest about how you feel

Sometimes people can put pressure on you without even realising and sometimes it can help to talk about how it makes you feel. Talking about things can help you to think about other ways they can support you in the future. If you’re worried about telling someone, you can always talk to us.

  • Don’t compare yourself to your friends

Competing with your friends can help to keep you motivated. But it can also make you feel like you’re not good enough, especially on social media. Try keeping a list of the revision you’ve done so you can see how much you’re achieving.

  • Let your stress out

Try using our Art box or the Mood Journal in your locker to describe how the pressure makes you feel. Or write a letter to someone you trust saying what’s happening.

Exams and mental health

Watch: Social pressures at exam time

Beat exam stress

Coping with other problems at exam time

Trying to revise when you’ve got other things you’re coping with can be tough. There are lots of things that can distract you, including:

Talking about what’s happening can help you to find ways to make revising easier. You could let out your feelings with a friend, on our message boards or by talking to a Childline counsellor.

Talking to an adult you trust, like a teacher means they could help you to find time to revise when you won’t be disturbed, or talk to your family and carers about what’s happening.

In some serious situations, your school might be able to make exceptions, such as marking your exam papers based on your work throughout the year, but your teacher can discuss this with you. 

the awkward moment
when you forget

Get advice from other young people on the study help message boards