Preparing for Exams, Part 5: Exam Stress

Conceptual Thinkers - Childerns play


Aside from the challenges those math formulas can bring you and your child, there’s another hurdle often overlooked: the stress.

I know that it’s natural to have stress over exams, and you might be thinking, “We shouldn’t have to make a fuss every time our children get stressed.” Stress is important because it can help build your child’s tolerance for more stress in the future when he goes out to work. But too much of anything is never good. That’s why we have to learn to manage it.

A Healthy Lifestyle

You might already know this, but a healthy amount of exercise is important for your child’s brain functions. Yes, the regular P.E. sessions at school can help deal with that, but exercises and breaks between study periods can not only help reduce stress and anxiety, but also help him be more confident in his revisions and concentrate better rather than be distracted by when he gets to play his Playstation (to relief his stress).

It doesn’t have to be long periods of exercise, just 20 minutes of cardiovascular exercises like brisk walking, running, cycling, or even swimming (if you have a pool nearby). And once he’s done, have him take a quick shower and it’s back to exam revision he goes. Remember to also perform warm-ups and cool-downs before and after the exercise, respectively. All of this shouldn’t take more than 45 minutes, plenty of time per day for your child’s after school hours.

This routine should become a regular habit throughout the year so that it can become a healthy habit your child will automatically follow. Take it step by step if your child is not comfortable with the habit at first and help him become motivated to follow this schedule using the ol’ carrot and stick technique.

And this brings me to my next point.

A Proper Revision Schedule

This might seem obvious to you, but it does not seem obvious to your child, which might be one reason why he is stressed up about not having enough time to study. Don’t just create a schedule for him; show him how to create one for himself and how to set aside ample time for both revision and breaks in between. This way, he could learn for himself that there can be time for studying and also time for relaxing his brain.

Once again, this will help boost his confidence and become more motivated to revise for his exams. More importantly, it will also help him take some self-initiative in organizing his own study periods.

Remind him not to wait until the last minute to study and stick with the schedule. Teach him that by being better prepared now, he will feel less overwhelmed during the exam period. Perhaps have him give himself a little test now and then, and maybe rewarding himself with a small candy every time he excels in one of these tests.

The Reward of Education is the Process, Not the Outcome

It might seem like advice from a millennial who doesn’t know better, but I believe that education is more about nurturing the right attitude towards working hard rather than ensuring academic success. Get your child to try his best for his exams, get him tutors and feed him brain food, yes! But something important both you and your child must remember is the purpose of his education. Many parents in Singapore, I feel, focus too much on exam results, leading to their children focusing more on their possible failure than the learning process their exams will lead them. Your child needs to understand that as long as he tries his best, whatever may come in the months ahead when the results are released, you will face it with him together.

Because you are his family. And that’s what family do – they stick together during tough times.

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