Don’t stress over exams!

Please read these top tips to help your child through their exams

A new survey from National Citizen Service (NCS) reveals more than half of parents (55%) don’t know how to help their teens cope with exams as they revise

for new style GCSEs and an overwhelming majority of parents and teens (79%) agree there’s too much pressure on teens at exam time.

With less than a month before the start of the new look GCSEs and A-Levels, which have an increased emphasis on exams and little or no coursework counting towards final grades, NCS has partnered with parenting expert and commentator, Liz Fraser, to offer practical support and advice for parents. Liz says “As a mother of three, whose two eldest have already done their GCSEs, and youngest is sitting them next year, I know all too well how demanding they are, and how much stress they can cause – both to the children sitting the exams, and to their parents. First things to do, is to keep an eye out for any symptoms of stress in your child as stress can affect people in many ways, and just being aware of any changes in your child’s behaviour is very important.  If your teen does seem to be struggling with the stress, the next step is to talk with them about it, gently, and see what they are finding most difficult – and then to try and find ways together that will help.”

Liz’s top five tips to help your teen through the exam period:

  • Make a list: A simple list of manageable things to do each day is hugely effective to reduce stress and can help to make your teen feel they have achieved something and are in control of their life and work
  • Ensure they’re getting quality sleep: Encourage your teen not to have their mobile phone in the bedroom and cut down on caffeinated drinks
  • Encourage stress-reducing activities: Ensure your teen is having breaks and goes outside every day for a walk or other form of exercise
  • Play down the worry of exams: Calling them ‘tests’ rather than ‘exams’ can help, as can explaining that it’s not the be-all-and-end-all of their lives, if they don’t quite get the grades they want
  • Talk to your teen! Central to it all, is communication. The more teens can talk about their worries, the more parents can help work with them to reduce the stress. Talking often alleviates a huge amount of worry, if it’s done calmly, and supportively

Liz continued “In addition to the above, I’d encourage parents to support their teens in signing up to the NCS summer 2018 programme. Not only will it give them something positive to focus on when they’re feeling stressed, but it also has a proven track record in improving the confidence of teens. A huge 81% of NCSers said that they felt capable of more than they had realised as a result of completing the programme* and I can only imagine how wonderful it was for the parents of these teens to hear about their new-found sense of self belief.”

To further support teens during this stressful period, NCS will distribute 100,000 exam stress packs to every Year 11 student who signs up to the programme. The pack includes practical advice on handling stress, treats to help them through revision and an exciting gift to celebrate once exams are over.

400,000 young people have taken on new challenges, made new friends and contributed to their community as a result of completing NCS.

There are still places available this summer for Year 11 students to take part in this once in a lifetime opportunity. Parents and teens can find more information and sign up to NCS via

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