A young person's story: how to cope with exams
Why, hello there, my name's Jamie, I’m 19, from Leeds, and I opted to submit a guest blog for YoungMinds! I’m going to be writing about how you can deal with your exams and the best way to make them the least stressful time of the year instead of the hardest...
Let's start with my experience of my GCSE exams. Around the age of 13 I started with outbursts of anger, nothing triggered it, it just...happened. This led to having fights in school, getting multiple exclusions from school for verbal abuse to teachers and staff (now I look back I was so lost) and it eventually led to me only going in for two days of the week on my chosen days for lessons I felt like I could stay calm in. It was a struggle but even though I used to misbehave I was still getting As and Bs and expected Bs in all my exams.
After spending days at a time in the house I ended up not leaving my room, not going in to school. My anger slowly faded and I sunk into depression and I gained a lot of anxiety. All of that was from years 7-10, and then year 11 came and my GCSEs came up and what I was going to do for them.
My mum worked in the same school as me at that time as a teaching assistant and after talking with her she thought that she may be able to apply for special permission for me to take them at home with a staff member and her invigilator me at home. I want to offer guidance on how she managed to do that but the fact is I’m unsure. I think the way she did it was talking with the main staff member that deals with exams for the pupils: every school has one and if you’re unsure I suggest you talk with your head of year and/or counsellor.
Now for some tips and guidance:
For me, in the few exams I did do whilst I was attending school, I couldn’t sit at the front of the room or in the middle, I know some of you may be thinking, "Lol, why can’t you sit at the front of the room?" and the simple answer is... anxiety. I could not sit at the front of the room with EVERYONE behind me; for me, the thought of having 80-100 teens behind me and me not been able to turn around to see everyone and where they were looking and if they were looking at me would have just destroyed my mind and made me not able to focus on the exam in question.
After talking with my counsellor I explained to her why I couldn’t sit towards the front. She didn’t really understand why but she managed to talk to someone and get me put in a spare seat, which made it 10 times easier.
- Taking your exams at home
I am a little unsure how best to go about this but as I explained before IT IS possible. I think the best circumstances for thinking about applying for this is if you’re home-ridden and having trouble attending school full-time.
From what I understand my mum talked with the Lead Exam Staff Member and the Staff Member suggested the home exams. My advice to you would be to talk with your head of year or counsellor about it and see what they can do, but what you should know is that it IS possible; and even if you can’t make it into school for whatever reason find out the school's number and give them a ring. If your head of year doesn’t understand your situation because they’ve not been informed just give them a brief overview - you don’t have to go into unnecessary details.
- What not to do
I’m sure you’ve heard it before from all your teachers, parents and maybe even friends but don’t forget to revise. It is so important, take it from me: I didn’t revise the entire length I was at home instead of at school. I could have been revising instead of reading how Batman had to stop the Joker from taking over Gotham City.
I can’t stress enough how important it is, teachers will be more than willing to help you. Ask for things, ask if you can borrow books, get photocopies of things, and ask to be set work. Also don’t forget about coursework if that’s how you’re going to obtain your GCSE qualification.
Another thing I'd suggest is to schedule your revision - don’t go over the top and revise 20 hours a day with four hours of sleep and turning it into Rocky training for a boxing match. Make a timetable for certain days, and make sure you schedule in some breaks.
It's all about staying calm and not over-working yourself as you’ll be having to deal with low moods etc as well.
And so the post comes to a end, I hope this was helpful. Just one last thing I want to say - if you find yourself struggling to cope, make sure you tell someone and get some help.
I hope you all are having a great day, stay safe, stay happy and thank you for taking the time to read this <3 , Jamie.
What are your tips for dealing with exam stress? Let us know in the comments!