Exam season is fast approaching and many young people are about to take exams that will decide their direction in terms of further education. Some young people will have to ensure that they get the desired grades to be able to attend their university of choice, as per their conditional offer.
From all the teachers, parents, young people and healthcare professionals I have worked with over the last few years, it is clear that there is now increased pressure for schools to demonstrate a high level of academic performance by their pupils. This provides added pressure for young people, particularly as the GCSE and A’Level curriculum appears to be harder than it was 10 years ago.
Add to this equation the young person’s expectation of themselves, as well as the expectations of their families and friends, and you get a highly stressful life event that could affect young people’s mental wellbeing.
Below are some tips for young people to help with mental welling during exam times:
1. Planning – Plan your study time. Plan what subjects you are going to study and when you are going to study them. Allocate yourself a set time to study, and try to keep to your timetable, allowing yourself regular breaks. Making studying fun and creative can improve learning. I used to revise for science with a friend who had a pool table in her attic, and we would get to take a shot for every correct answer. There are also several apps you can download to help with revision, such as iMindmap. Apps are also available for specific subjects on sites such as and
2. Study with a friend – Studying with a friend can be beneficial as it helps you to remember that you are not alone. You can also test each other, and may learn new revision methods
3. Reward yourself – Set yourself a target and reward yourself after you have reached it. This could be an ice cream or dinner out with friends when you have answered a set number of questions correctly, or a new book, CD or shoes when you have done well in a particular exam.
4. Sleep – Sleeping helps you recover from the previous day, allows for the brain and body to grow, ultimately improving mood and concentration. The recommended sleep time for adolescents currently ranges from 8-10 hours per night.
5. Stay healthy – Regular exercise and healthy eating can improve your mood and provide your body with the right balance of natural chemicals and hormones. The recommended daily doses are 30 minutes for exercise, and 5 -6 portions of fruit and vegetables a day.
6. Stay positive – This is key to a healthy mind. Saying affirmations out loud, or writing them down so you can read them, when the feelings of doubt start to creep in can change your mindset.
7. Mindfulness – The practice of mindfulness has been shown to reduce stress. You can find a script from the various mindfulness websites, or you download apps such as Headspace, Stop Breathe and Think, and Smiling Mind which was set up predominantly for young people.
8. Grow Daily – Head over to for motivational content…yes a cheeky plug I know, but definitely worth it.