How to Help Your Teen Stress Less About Exams

Learn the 5 Steps to Help Your Teen Experience More Success.

For many teens, preparing for exams automatically throws them into the Chronic Stress Loop. Once they start getting their review materials, the extra work involved feels overwhelming, and they begin to panic: What if I fail all my exams? Before they have even begun, the vision they are holding for themselves is failure. Obviously, this is a horrible mindset to begin preparing for exams.

The first thing that teens need to understand (though I know it can be difficult when it is our job to make them understand this) is that for this short period of time, they WILL have to work harder and spend more time studying and preparing. Many times teens already have one foot into summer, and it feels really challenging to increase their focus. The end of the school year also includes lots of ceremonies, so teens’ time might already feel crunched with those special events. They have less time and are expected to do more. Who came up with this plan?

In reality, learning how to manage a busier schedule is a valuable life skill. How can you help your teen calm the panic, so they can focus, meet their expectations and experience success when they are feeling overextended?

The 5 Steps to Help Your Teen Plan Instead of Panic

The best strategy to calm the panic is to plan out a study schedule. While these steps might seem obvious to you, if your teen is caught in the Chronic Stress Loop, they probably won’t take the time to plan because it takes time away from studying.

Step #1 Evaluate Workload

Help your teen determine how much time it is going to take to prepare to study for each subject. This might include completing study guides, making flash cards, creating outlines, or finishing a book.

Step #2 Prioritize

Prioritize by personal difficulty and test date. If Spanish is your teen’s toughest subject, then allocate more studying time for Spanish. If Spanish is your teen’s last exam, then they can save some the of studying to closer to the date. You don’t want your teen studying Spanish for an hour the night before their history exam. However, they could spend twenty minutes everyday reviewing Spanish vocabulary, so that the pile of terms seems less daunting.

Step #3 Create Study Time Blocks and Slots

Look at a calendar and determine when your teen is available to prepare and study. Most likely, your teen will have to put in some extra hours on the weekend. You could block out 1–3 on Saturday and 11–1, 2–4, 6–8 on Sunday. I know my teens usually only do work Sunday night during the school year. If you lay out these blocks for them, they will be able to see that they can easily get 8 hours in over the weekend and still have plenty of free time and breaks which helps ease the panic. (Your teen might needs less or more time depending on their age and aptitude.)

On school nights, you might suggest some new study slots. Some teens do better getting up early while others do better studying a bit later into the night. Maybe you quiz then during a meal or a car ride. Helping your teen decide when they will put in the extra time, gives them the peace of mind that they are doing their best to prepare for the exams.

Step #4 Map Out Study Plan

Once you have the time frame set, then begin plugging in assignments and studying to the time blocks and slots. When your teen wakes up each day, instead of feeling overwhelmed by all they have to do, they can look at their Study Plan and see exactly what they need to do throughout the day. Since it is all mapped out, it feels manageable which will reduce the stress, calm the panic and help them reach their goal of doing well on their exams.

Step #5 Strengthen Positive Mindset

Even with a solid study plan, your teen still might feel stress because let’s face it, taking exams is no fun. I have worked in schools for over twenty years, and during exam time, I constantly hear students saying that they are going to fail their exams. It is really important that they work on their mindset, so that they stay positive about their ability to do well, which eases their stress and helps them perform better on exams. I love to give teens mantras that they can say as they walk throughout the day.

  • I will be successful.
  • I am a good student.
  • I feel more prepared every minute.
  • I will ace my exams.

Another great strategy is to record mantras using the App, Think Up. The Think Up App allows your teen or you to record their mantras. Then their personal mantras play in a loop to a background of soothing music. This way your teen can start and end their day by relaxing and listening to their mantras helping them stay in a state of ease.

While preparing for exams brings a level of stress to every student which helps motivate them to work a bit harder and push through when they feel like quitting, too much stress becomes a deterrent to productivity. It is important for teens to keep their stress levels low on a regular basis so that when they have an added stressor like exams, they are able to function at a high level. Need some help creating a daily stress management plan for your teen? Grab a copy of my Stress Less Guide here to learn my top 5 tips to manage day to day stress better.


Originally published at www.claireketchum.com on May 27, 2017.