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Kids sitting exams? Don’t stress – Perth schoolgirl Kristi is here to help

Help is on hand for parents in Tayside and Fife who are struggling to help their offspring relax.

Kristi and pupil sitting an exam
Kristi Donavan gives her advice on how to relax during exam season. Image: NSPCC/Shutterstock.

Exams stress will be causing tension in homes across Tayside and Fife.

And as it’s probably been a while since they sat one of the high-stakes tests themselves, parents may be struggling to help calm their children’s nerves.

So we have some advice from someone with much more recent experience.

Perth schoolgirl, Kristi Donavan, 17, reveals how it feels to sit exams, and what has helped her relax.

She admits that exams have “made me want to give up more times than I would care to admit”.

So parents, whether your offspring are sitting National 5s, Highers or Advanced Highers, Kristi has some words of wisdom you can share.

Exams started in April and run until May 30 and results will be issued on August 6.

Don’t put your life on standby

“Tensions are high during the exam period. All the stress and frustration that comes with remembering an equation or a piece of evidence for your essays can build up.

“Personally, I found that going on a walk or meeting up with friends for lunch or a coffee helped. Even something as simple as going to get a glass of water can offer relief.

Make time to meet friends. Image: Shutterstock.

“Yes, these exams are important, but you cannot put your life on standby because of them. It’s important to release all that built-up frustration and meeting up with friends for a couple of hours can help take your mind off revision. Taking regular breaks helps you not only mentally but physically as well.

Keep your weekly routine

“Another thing that got me through my exams was maintaining a weekly routine. I volunteer with the Girlguiding unit near me. Throughout the exam season I often considered not going but I decided to keep at it.

“In the long run I’m so glad I did. Having a distraction was great; it kept me from overworking myself and helped me relax, even if it was just for an hour or so.

Start early (remember this one for next year)

“I can’t think of anything worse than sitting down after six long hours of school to do more work than necessary. Instead, after finishing your homework sit for another 15 to 20 minutes and study.

“It doesn’t matter if the exam is four months away. Starting as early as possible is useful. That short time doesn’t seem like it would help much but sometimes it is the difference between a pass or fail.

Cramming the night before is not the way to go. Image: Shutterstock.

I also found that spreading my studying out helped to prevent me from getting overwhelmed. It may sound cliché but cramming the night before is not the way to go – trust me!

Don’t overthink it

“My advice for anyone who is sitting exams in the future is not to overthink it. The exams will only consist of things you know and have been taught throughout the year. The questions may not come up in the way you want or are used to, but you will be able to work them out.

“And do not go over what you know moments before you go into the exam hall with a friend – they might have learned things in a different way. This will just end up confusing you.

Relax in the exam hall

“Remember to relax. I know it is easier said than done but when sitting in the exam hall just before the invigilator allows you to start, take a breath or drink of water to relax.

“The exam won’t go well if you’re stressing.

Try to relax in the exams hall. Image: Shutterstock.

Then forget it

“Don’t confer answers when you are out of the exam room. The worst thing to do is sit around discussing your answers. What’s done is done. You can’t change your answers after the fact. Move on and forget about it. Concentrate on what’s coming up next, you can control that more than what’s already happened.

Exams do not define you

Results day stress is real: the waiting and the not knowing. Anxieties only increase when your friends get their results before you. But it’s okay if your results don’t come out the way you expected. You can only do your best and if you don’t get the results that you wanted, it’s not the end of the world.

“Exams do not define you. Yes, it can be frustrating, especially when you think an exam went great but sometimes it is just not your day. If that does happen, there are helplines you can call. You can even talk to your teachers about it, and at the end of the day you can re-sit exams if need be.

“When you are in fourth and fifth year, there is always more time. Even if you are in sixth year, there are ways around it. Don’t worry if things don’t go to plan. Learn from your mistakes and carry on.

“You’ll be fine.”

Kristi was a founding member of the Bold Girls Ken campaign delivered by the NSPCC in partnership with Perth and Kinross Council. She is now an ambassador for the national Young Women Know campaign.