The exam season is a time of high anxiety for every one. The normal rituals of family life interrupted as teenagers are urged to abandon pursuits such as playing football and watching TV for serious book work, and adults find themselves oppressed by anxieties about whether their children are going to succeed in life or fail. Examinations are as much a test of our emotional stamina as of our intellectual agility. How then can we help put ourselves, and our children, into a condition that will make getting through the whole process as unstressful and ultimately successful, as it possibly can be?

Here are some tips for attaining examination cool:

For students:

  • Talk to someone about your hopes and fears.
  • Ask someone you like and trust-it may be your teacher, a parent or a fellow student-if you can talk to them about what you hope to achieve and where your anxieties lie. Tell them about your weak points and what sort of stresses you are experiencing. Then listen to whether you have said chimes with their experience of you or sounds off key.
  • Be realistic about what you can achieve: Try not to con yourself into thinking you will do better than you are able or worse than you need to. If you want to fulfil your potential, it is unhelpful to get steamed up about the prospects of disaster or carried away on the wings of an unreachable ambition.
  • See exams as a challenge rather than as an imposition: Try looking up exams as an opportunity that has been given for you to show what you can achieve or to develop your skills in meeting challenges. If you see them as a conspiracy cooked up by parents and teachers to make your summer a misery, you are going to end up feeling resentful and oppressed.
  • Keep your life in balance. Finding a good balance between work and other pursuits is one of life’s biggest challenges, as it starts with examinations. The more you disrupt the normal patterns of your life- giving up the activities that refresh, stimulate and amuse you-the more stressful the examination process is likely to become. But it is difficult to get those exams out of your head, do not worry about it. Just go with the flow. Try looking on exams instead as an opportunity to learn something new about yourself-what your talents aptitudes and inclinations really are-so that you can deal better with th future.

For Parents:

  • Listen to what they are telling you. Try not to let your fears and anxieties prevent you from hearing the fears and concerns that your children have. Let them tell you what they think they will achieve and where they might fail. Accept what they are saying.
  • Respect the state they are in: the stress of preparing for exams can chum people up in all sorts of different ways: they may change their eating patterns, become sullen, moody or withdrawn. Whatever their individual response to stress, try to respect that as their way of getting through the situation.
  • Encourage your children to discipline themselves. Even if you feel that your children should be working harder, enjoying themselves less, getting more sleep or doing something else that would make you feel less anxious about their prospects, it is better not to tell them: they will get irritated and may start feeling that they are not competent to discipline themselves. Support them in working out a routine that works for them.
  • Don’t be a gloom-and-doom merchant: Your child probably feels worried enough about what is going to happen not to respond kindly to apocalyptic warnings about the consequences of not doing well. Avoid bribery. What most children need are not bribes, but reassurance that they will still be loved, valued and looked after whether they fail or succeed.