• Red Dot Consulting

5 Ways to Keep Calm during Exam Uncertainty

Updated: Mar 22, 2021


With the debacle of the 2020 exams finally coming to a close, focus has already been turned to the cohort of 2021 and with that, a demand for more clarity. Pupils starting in year 11/Grade10 and Year 13/Grade 12 begin the academic year on the back foot, having missed out on 6 months of critical face to face teaching.


News has been circulating in recent months about subject specific changes in order to ensure timeframes are hit and curriculums completed in time. In addition to this discussions and petitions have been circulating online as to whether the exams should be pushed back by a number of weeks to help those students. It can all become rather overwhelming for us as parents let alone those students who are actually going through it.


Parents, teachers and schools now have a nail biting wait, juggling any speculation appearing in the news about whether the exams may or may not go ahead as planned. One thing that you can be sure of is that you child will have picked up on all of this and the stress that accompanies it.


Sarah Hannafin, senior policy adviser at the NAHT, which represents school leaders in the UK, said: “The impact of this situation on students cannot be under-estimated. Year 11 and Year 13 are immensely pressured years in any circumstances. Any changes ideally needed to be known at the start of term so that teachers knew how to plan students’ learning and exam preparation. So time is rapidly running out.”


However, you as a parent can play your part to make sure, as the old adage goes, that they 'keep calm and carry on'. Here are some top tips to help:


Talk - make sure your child knows that you are there for them. Keep them up-to-date with the lastest news, not to cause scaremongering but to help with the second guessing that will undboutedly be going on in their heads.


Make sure you have time to connect with your teen, they already have a lot going on inside of their heads but it is important to keep the lines of communication open and discuss fake vs real news with them.


Remember not to fall into the trap that if your child hasn't raised the issue then all is well. Teen brains need to be coaxed and its important to raise these issues along with any other issues that may be potentially worrying them.


Jungle Drums - rumours circulating at school, on social media and between friends can only highlight the given situation. Sift out the wheat from the chaff and have your facts on hand to help.


Coping Strategies - from introducing your teen to meditation / yoga technicques / walk and talk mini hikes - these can all help release the pent up worry and concerns that may be bottled up.


On-Track - keep your head above water and help rationalise it by putting strategies into place. Get a handle of what exactly happened during the 2020 year and put some of those practices into place. For example, if your child is a last minute essay writer or puts off homework to the eleventh hour, explain to them that this will now have to change.

Assessments during this upcoming year may all count towards the final grade as per last year so revising ahead can only prove to be postive and result in a win win situation.


Focus - on the task in hand and don't let the drama whip you up into your own frenzy. These exams ARE important to these teens so in turn it's important not to belittle them in anyway and fall into a trap of calming their neves by saying something you wish you hadn't. Make sure you have a contigency plan in place if the grades aren't met at either level and what alternative options may be open to them.


As exam boards continue to work in determining the best approach, we as parents wait with baited breath. Although we may not know what is around the corner, we can however be sure to give our kids a heads up based on last year's debacle, in order to help guide them through the murky waters of the exams.

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