Exam Result Anxiety


Exam result anxiety is a common feeling at this time of year.  The gorgeous weather may have helped improve our mood and perhaps momentarily moved the...

Exam result anxiety is a common feeling at this time of year.  The gorgeous weather may have helped improve our mood and perhaps momentarily moved the anticipation of exam results to the back of the mind for some students. However, results day for both A ‘levels and GSCEs is looming.

Receiving results can be a time of celebration as they can facilitate a young person taking the next step on their journey.  However, for some, the grades might be lower than expected and this could affect future plans.

So how can we support the young person?

Think FAMILY for some useful ideas to support young people going through exam result anxiety

  • F:  Focus on Goals
  • A:  Allow Emotions To Be Released
  • M:  Manage Social Media Time
  • I:  Information Can Reassure
  • L:  Liaise With Support
  • Y:  Your Future

Focus On Goals

They should hold on to what they want to achieve. Not in terms of the grades but in the direction, they want to take. If the grades weren’t as high as expected they can still talk to the college/6th form/university about the options available. It might be worth considering re-sitting the year. Sometimes the course can be easier to comprehend the second time round.

Allow Emotional Release

If they have suffered a disappointment its understandable they may be feeling sad or angry or frustrated. These emotions are normal and letting them out can help manage the disappointment as well as help them experience acceptance of the situation.  Acceptance enables them to deal with the actual situation as opposed to having catastrophic thoughts about the future or regrets about the past.

Manage Social Media Time

It can be a good idea to suggest the young person stays off social media for a day. If they do go on, they are likely to see mainly good news about other people’s success as people tend not to share their disappointments on social media. It can be a good thing to celebrate success, it can also lead to them comparing themselves to others, which can make it harder to focus on their own situation.

Information Can Reassure

Suggest they read about others who are in a similar situation. This can ease the feeling of loneliness and help them realise they still have a future. There are loads of articles online discussing how people have recovered from bad exam results or how they dealt with not doing so well in their A-levels. Hearing about people who have found themselves in a similar predicament can be very motivating and inspire them to take action and change their current situation.

Liaise With Support

Encourage them to ask for help instead of dealing with the problem alone. Its possible they may feel ashamed of their situation, let them know there are plenty of people around who want to help. It’s best to get advice from people they trust. Family and friends may all have different ideas of the best way forward but it’s still good to listen to all of them! At the end of the day it is their decision and they need to choose what is best for them.

Your Future

Talk to them about doing something different. The exam results could demonstrate that it is unlikely the original plans will come to fruition. It could be time to consider other options. There could be numerous opportunities that have not previously been thought about or considered. This could be an alternative course, volunteering, apprenticeships etc – with new choices comes new opportunities.

For further information about the symptoms of anxiety or for information regarding when you should seek professional support for this condition, please take a look at our anxiety guide.

1 in 4 people in England need mental health support*

We’re here to ensure you do not have to face it alone.

If you feel like you need professional help, we’re a private mental health hospital in Windsor with nurses on hand 24 hours a day who provide expert clinical treatment.

You can call Cardinal Clinic on 01753 869755 for confidential help and advice or send us an enquiry.

*McManus, S., Meltzer, H., Brugha, T. S., Bebbington, P. E., & Jenkins, R. (2009). Adult psychiatric morbidity in England, 2007: results of a household survey.

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