The Ultimate Guide to GCSE Wellbeing: Dealing with GCSE Anxiety

Looking for parent advice on how to deal with GCSE anxiety? Keep reading to find out what we recommend in the lead up to the important GCSE exams.

 Parent talking to anxious child


The importance of a healthy mindset during GCSEs

Taking the GCSEs can sometimes be stressful for students and guardians. When exams are around the corner, it is vital for GCSE students to maintain positive mindsets and have healthy expectations of themselves. 

The lead up to exams can be nerve-wracking and could cause anxiety, depression, and other mental health complications for students. At Explore Learning, we take our students’ mental wellbeing very seriously since our students’ wellbeing will always remain our top priority. 

Having a healthy mindset during the GCSEs could take form in many ways. It is important for young people and guardians to be aware of the different strategies and techniques they can follow to make sure their mental health remains a priority throughout the GCSE process. 


What is exam anxiety?

Exam anxiety can take many different forms. Some students experience feelings of intense discomfort, pain and/or extreme nervousness when studying for or taking exams. Although it is normal to be nervous about an exam you’ve been studying for a while, it is necessary to realise when anxiety about an exam becomes abnormal or very intense. 

It is important for guardians to distinguish between exam nervousness and medical anxiety and not interchange both experiences. If you’re curious about the differences, have a look at this article on the difference between nervousness and anxiety.


Causes of exam stress and anxiety

There can be a range of causes for exam stress and anxiety. Some students fear their performance in exams and worry about how their grades will impact their future. Other students may have personal circumstances that prevented them from studying for the exam. Sometimes exam anxiety could occur even when students are proficient in the exam material. 

Although many students and guardians often look for a reason that causes the stress, it is important to understand that sometimes this stress comes unexpectedly. Therefore, it is vital for all students and guardians to prepare for navigating stressful scenarios during exam season. 


What it’s like to experience exam stress and anxiety

Experiencing exam stress and anxiety can be very unsettling and exhausting. Feelings of stress can prevent students from concentrating on the material or make them unable to solve questions they know the answers to. 


Mental and physical effects of exam stress

Exam stress can cause mental and physical health complications. When stress levels rise, students can start to feel anxious, lonely, and upset. These feelings can prevent them from being themselves and carrying out their normal activities. They can also cause feelings of numbness, exhaustion, and laziness that significantly overwhelms students. 



Spotting the signs of GCSE anxiety

Although exam stress symptoms can differ from one person to the other, some of the most common characteristics of exam stress include: 

  1.   Not being able to focus on studying/ solving questions. 
  2.   Unexplained irritation or anger over minor matters
  3.   Lack/loss of interest in the subject 
  4.   Repeated talk about the exam or worry about the results 


Coping strategies for anxiety during GCSEs

As mentioned before, it’s necessary for each person to find the best coping strategy for their stress and anxiety during GCSE exams. It is also recommended that guardians help their children develop these coping strategies and techniques from when their child is young, so that these practices are engrained and are second-nature to students. 

Some of the most successful coping strategies for GCSE exams include: 

  1.   Getting at least 8 hours of sleep every night, especially the nights right before the exam 
  2.   Taking deep breaths when any thoughts or feelings of anxiety pop up 
  3.   Allowing yourself regular breaks during study time and on the weekends 
  4.   Staying calm before the exam and believing in your abilities 
  5.   Listening to tips and advice from older siblings, cousins, friends, etc. who have recently taken the GCSEs 
  6.   Talking about your feelings and emotions with someone you trust and who actively listens to you 


Stress and anxiety-busting apps

In addition to these coping strategies, there are ample stress and anxiety-busting mobile applications that can be very helpful for students going through the GCSEs. Some of the most recommended applications are: 

  1. Headspace 
  2. Calm 
  3. Moodnotes 


Combatting exam stress

Feelings of stress and anxiety are likely to come up during an exam. If this happens, it’s important for you to stay calm and practice your coping strategies. For a more comprehensive guide on how to avoid exam stress, have a look at our blog post on how to avoid exam stress.  


Managing results day anxiety

Lots of people have difficulties managing results day anxiety. This is very common among GCSE students because there is a build-up of intense workload, worry, and stress for several months. 

You’ve already done the most difficult part of studying and sitting for the exam, give yourself credit! You can manage your results day anxiety by distracting yourself from constantly thinking about it. Here are some thoughts on what you could do: 

  1.   Practice an old hobby that you haven’t done in a while. 
  2.   Play your favourite sport alone or with a team 
  3.   Bake some of your favourite treats and distribute to your family and friends 
  4.   Visit a pet shelter and play with some puppies! 
  5.   Master a skill that you always wanted to have but never had the chance 


How to deal with disappointing GCSE exam results

First of all, you should take a few deep breaths. You must remember that you should not continually blame yourself for not getting the grade you wanted. There are a number of various reasons why this might have occurred. Here are some steps we recommend that you follow: 

  1. Give yourself a break and some time to process the results. 
  2. Stay calm and take deep breaths whenever you are reminded of the grades/ think about them. 
  3. Go over the exam and see what your mistakes were. Make sure you understand what happened. 
  4. Develop a plan on how you can improve your grade, sit for another exam, take the course again if you have time. 
  5. Speak with your teacher, counsellor, or anyone that you appreciate getting advice from and take it from there. 



How can I help my child with GCSE anxiety?

The role guardians play in helping their children deal with GCSE anxiety is very important. Feelings of stress and anxiety can make young people feel lonely and afraid. The biggest support you can give them is to make them feel heard, understood, and always validated. 

You can also decrease the amount of stress they have during the GCSEs by preparing them early on. GCSE tuition can increase confidence and ease anxiety surrounding the exams, so it is never a bad idea to have a tutor support them during their journey. 

If you would like to know more about our GCSE maths tuition, have a look here. You can always book a free trial to discuss anything with your tutor. 

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