Grab the Meic: Terrified of Failing Exams
Scared that your exams are going to go badly? Is it making you ill? How do you stop worrying so much about it? A young person contacted Grab the Meic for help.
Lots of you will be sitting exams this year, many for the first time after exams were cancelled because of Covid. Meic will be sharing lots of blogs and tips over the next few weeks to help you make it through – click here to see.
Grab the Meic is your opportunity to ask us about anything that’s worrying you. We’re here to listen and give advice. If you want to #grabthemeic then check out this page, but remember this advice is not instant. If you need advice quickly then please contact the helpline.
This article is also available in Welsh. I ddarllen y cynnwys yma yn Gymraeg – clicia yma.
I’m terrified I’m going to fail all of my exams because my anxiety gives me headaches and the worst brain fog ever. I start crying over tiny little things and I have a constant, mind-numbing headache that stops me from taking in any of the stuff I revise. Also I’m already rather dumb so if I fail this year I’ll have no chance at life, which I probably won’t have anyway because my family are quite poor.
Hi there, thanks for coming through to us here at Meic. I’m sorry to hear that you’re feeling so anxious about your revision and that you’re feeling negative towards yourself and what the future might hold for you.
You’re not on your own. A lot of young people experience stress and anxiety due to school pressures, such as exams. It’s also common to panic about the impact these exams might have on your future. Check out some of the articles we’ve published on Meic during our special exam campaign with lots of tips and advice – click here.
It sounds like you’ve been revising well towards your exams, and this is good. However, revision is not the only important factor for exam success. Looking after yourself will have a big impact on your performance and your wellbeing. So, what do we mean by looking after yourself?
Don’t pressure yourself
It sounds like you’re putting yourself under a lot of pressure with these exams. You mention that failing means you’d have no chance at life. Although it’s common for young people to feel this way when facing these pressures, it’s not strictly true. This is a lot of pressure to put yourself under, which might be having an impact on your emotional health and, as a result, your anxiety levels.
It’s worth reminding yourself that although exams can impact the choices you make or the directions you take, no one exam can result in you having no chance in life at all. Try and be reasonable with yourself about this and put things into perspective regarding your options. It might be worth talking your worries through with someone, saying it out loud and sharing can be a relief. The person you talk to may be able to help put things into perspective.
Take a look at Student Minds. It gives some very useful tips about coping with exam panic, such as good habits, bad habits, organisation and putting things into perspective.
You say that anxiety is causing you headaches and it seems that this is stopping you from studying. Have you experienced anxiety before? If this is the first time try not to despair. There are lots of things you can do to manage anxiety, from mindfulness techniques to breathing exercises. Check out the Mind website which has lots of resources, from information about the condition to tips on how to manage it yourself.
Taking time to relax
It’s important to appreciate that you’re working your brain really hard at the moment. Therefore it’s important that you take breaks to rest and relax. Taking regular short breaks during study time can help, otherwise it can be really hard concentrate and take on information. Without taking these breaks you may find studying isn’t working and experience what you’ve already described as ‘brain fog’. If you’re feeling panicky, taking just 20 minutes to yourself might help clear your head. Some of the apps on our calming sites article might be useful to you.
A good way to take a break from revision is to do some exercise. Head out for a walk or pop to the local leisure centre for an hour. Although it’s just an hour away from your study, exercise is likely to make you feel refreshed and ready to go again.
Be kind to yourself and give yourself rewards whilst studying. You could watch an episode of your favourite TV programme over lunch, or take half an hour out to listen to some music after tea. This is a great motivator and lets you have a little bit of downtime during the study period.
The way you eat has an effect on your body’s performance. It’s important to eat a healthy diet anyway, but it’s especially important when you’re using your brain this much. Forget coffee, energy drinks and junk food. Check out some of the tips on the BBC about healthy options you might want to think about.
We hope some of these tips help. If you’re unsure about any of this, or need any more advice or information, please don’t hesitate to contact us on the Meic Helpline.
Good luck with your exams and remember to take care of yourself.
The Meic Team
Check out the Power Up website for exam and assessment guidance, careers advice and wellbeing tips for learners in Wales. Careers Wales, E-sgol, Qualifications Wales, WJEC and Welsh Government have worked together to create lots of resources to help learners taking exams and assessments this year.
Exams and assessments can be tough on anyone, and sometimes you might need to talk things through with someone so that things don’t get on top of you. If you don’t know who to talk to, Meic is here for you every day between 8am and midnight. Our friendly advisers will listen and offer free information, advice and advocacy in confidence. Contact on the phone (080880 23456), text message (84001) or online chat.