Exam time is stressful for everyone. Here's how you as a parent can help - rather than hinder - your child's exam preparation.

5 Steps To Help Ease Your Teen’s Exam Stress

May 4th 2015

Exam season may seem like a long way off, but for your teenager, about to face probably the biggest challenge of his or her life so far, it’s looming.

If you want to ensure that your teen can do their best, you need to get a head start on ways to handle exam stress, and ways in which you as a parent can help rather than hinder your child’s preparation.

1. Recognise the Signs of Stress

First and foremost, it’s important to know what you’re looking for. Some children sail through exams without a care in the world, but most will exhibit several signs of stress. Headaches, irritability and sleeplessness are common signs of exam stress. Your teen might lose interest in food too, or alternatively eat everything in sight. Negativity and temper can also be sign of extreme pressure.

When you first start to notice the signs of exam stress, acknowledge them. Talk to your teen about how they’re feeling and acknowledge that this is a difficult time. Don’t push, but let them know that you understand and will support them.

2. Help Your Teen to Study

The key to exam success is good preparation, and that can start now. Few teenagers will want to start revising before school tells them they have to, but you can at least ensure that your child has somewhere tidy, comfortable and quiet to work.

This is a good time of year to think about investing in a private tutor for your child too. Last minute tutoring is all very well, but getting a tutor earlier can help to minimise problems before they arise. Steve Spriggs, MD of educational consultancy William Clarence Education, believes that a good tutor can make exams seem so much less of a hurdle. “It’s about the child having a trusted third party to boost their confidence,” he says. “Mum and Dad are always going to say that you’re going to do well.  When a tutor you’ve been working with tells you that, you know it’s the truth – and you know that they’ll work with you to help you achieve your full potential.”

3. Promote Good Health

A balanced diet and plenty of sleep are never more important than when your teen is facing exam pressure. Try to encourage your child not to give up physical hobbies in order to spend more time revising – exercise is great for clearing the mind, and will provide much needed break from academic work, so children should keep this up wherever possible.

4. Accommodate Exam Fever

As exams get closer, try to be flexible in your parenting style. Even a normally well behaved teen is going to lose it occasionally, and it’s your job to react to that calmly and lovingly. This is not the time to stress out over tidy bedrooms or not done chores – give your teen time and space to organise themselves how they see fit, and try not to insist on routines or regulations.

5. Provide Perspective

Perhaps the single most important thing a parent can do when a teen is facing exam stress is to help them see past the exams. Of course, working hard is important to their future, but these exams are not the be all and end all of life.

Reassure your teen that you only want them to do their best, and that you will love them no matter what the results.  Talk through what might happen if they don’t get the grades they need, and show them that there are always ways around any problem. This won’t encourage your teen to slack off, but it will ease the pressure on them. “The more relaxed your child is, the better they are likely to perform,” says Steve Spriggs. “Create a calm, focused and hard-working atmosphere, rather than a frenetic build up to an exam.”

Being a teenager facing exams is not an easy time, as most of us remember. Being a parent of said teen is not an easy job either, as many of us are finding out but together, parent and teen can do a great deal to ease exam stress and anything which makes your child feel less stressed and more confident will translate to better exam results in the end.



William Clarence Education is the leading education advisory and consultancy service in the UK. With an unrivalled reach into the UK Schooling and University network, we help and advise families from around the world to reach their maximum potential and gain access to the very best of British education.  

William Clarence put the student’s needs and welfare at the centre of every programme of study we deliver with a focus on integrity and discretion.  Services include UK School and University Placement, Residential Tutoring, Oxbridge Application, US College Admission and Homeschooling.

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