Reducing Exam Stress For Kids

Exams are stressful enough as it is, without your child feeling unprepared going into them. You can’t take the exam for them but you can give them some guidance and tips for preparing for test time.

Before your child goes into the exam hall remind them to take it one question at a time and not to get overwhelmed by the size of the paper.

Different strategies work for different people, so it might help to talk to your child’s friends and find out what works for them. You’re bound to find a trick that helps and then you can encourage your child to use those strategies when they’re feeling pressure.

Make sure they’re not putting too much pressure on themselves and remind them that you’re there to help – whether it’s to help them revise, refuel, or to do the last-minute dash to the shop for that all-important lucky pen.

What can I do to alleviate exam stress?

  • Find a quiet space for them to study without distractions.
  • Find out what they’ve been studying and how their time-plan is working.
  • Offer to lighten the load around the house during their study period.
  • Remind them to have breaks from study – at a certain point they will not be studying efficiently if they never take a break
  • Develop some revision techniques with them – there are many ways to revise and they don’t all work for everyone, but revising methodically and calmly is the best way to study, as opposed to a panicked cram session the night before an exam.
  • Help them to find balance. While studying is important, it’s also important that they take regular breaks, engage in some physical activity and eat regular and nutritious meals.
  • Make sure that the weight of your expectations isn’t what’s causing their excessive stress.
  • Encourage them to take some time away from the books for friends.
  • Make sure that they ask for help if they need it.
  • They may be interested in learning a bit of yoga or meditation. At the end of a long study session, it can really help power down an overworked brain.


If your child is obviously not able to do well or is not working as well as they can, remember that there are other ways to do well in life without passing exams. You don’t necessarily flunk life if you flunk an exam!

On the day of the exam:

Having a plan of action on the day of an exam may help your child to focus and stay calm.

  • Double-check the time and place of the exam and leave plenty of time to get there.
  • Make sure they have everything they need to write with etc – and provide spares for just-in-case.
  • Eat a good breakfast – even with a stomach in knots, they need to eat something that will sustain them.
  • Go to the toilet just before the exam starts. A nervous stomach can result in a nervous bladder!
  • Once in the exam, they should read all the directions on the paper first and view all the questions so they know exactly what they need to do.
  • Remind them to plan out the allotted time so they have enough time for each question.
  • If they’re feeling overwhelmed, tackle the easiest questions first. If there is something that’s too hard, leave it and come back to it if there’s time at the end.
  • Once pens are down and the exam is done, encourage them not to torment themselves by rehashing everything they imagine they did wrong.

This article was written by Ella Walsh with editing by Kidspot NZ. Sources include S.A. Govt’s Parenting and Child Health and NSW Govt’s Dept of Community Services

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