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How to Help Kids Cope With Exam-Related Stress: 5 Tips

Being a parent and teacher, Chitrangada writes about parenting issues with practical knowledge and experience and also provides solutions.

If your child is struggling with stress and anxiety over upcoming school exams, remember the mantra: "Plan, prepare and study."

If your child is struggling with stress and anxiety over upcoming school exams, remember the mantra: "Plan, prepare and study."

The Role of Parents During School Examinations

Educating children is a challenging job, both for parents and teachers.
At several points in a student's education, the school uses examinations to evaluate their academic growth and development.

Most children hate these exams. However, testing is a reality, and since it cannot be avoided, we must learn how to cope with it.

As soon as the test dates are announced, many students and parents alike start to feel anxious. Meanwhile, others seem totally relaxed!

Why is it that some parents and children are able to cope with the stress while others cannot?

Planning Ahead Is Crucial

Recalling my own experience when my children sat for their examinations, I can say one thing with full conviction: Prior and proper planning is a must, especially for crucial exams like the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) exam in India. This test result may help determine the child's future career options, so a well-planned study schedule is necessary.

In fact, test preparation should start from the very beginning—in this case, right at the start of the academic year. This will help prevent last-minute confusion, anxiety or stress.

5 Tips for Helping Students With Test Anxiety

  1. Plan, Prepare and Study
  2. Know Your Child's Strengths and Weaknesses
  3. Make Time for Exercise and Entertainment
  4. Help Your Child Eat Well and Get Enough Sleep
  5. Remember That Exams Aren't Everything
Students never look forward to their exams, but they can go into them with confidence if they're well-prepared.

Students never look forward to their exams, but they can go into them with confidence if they're well-prepared.

1. Plan, Prepare and Study

The CBSE exams and other important tests require a lot of advance planning. Everyone knows beforehand when they'll have to sit for these exams, so there's no excuse for failing to plan ahead. With the help and guidance of both their teachers and parents, students should make a plan of study and then follow it scrupulously.

  • Schedule an appropriate amount of study time for each subject based on the student's skill level.
  • Make sure you include enough time for studying thoroughly, answering questions and taking practice tests in your plan.
  • Test the student on what they already know. Trying out tests from previous years is a good idea. Students can also complete practice tests at home, either alone or alongside a few of their friends; this is a very good activity for building confidence. It also helps students recognize where their knowledge is lacking or where they need to improve.
  • If your plan doesn't seem to be working, don't hesitate to change it. If the student finds the practice tests useful, spend more time on those. If the student finds a particular subject or topic challenging, focus extra study time on that.

2. Know Your Child's Strengths and Weaknesses

Everyone has different aptitudes. Some students find mathematics easy and get high marks in that, while others breeze through language and humanities and do best in those subjects. Help your child identify their strong and weak points and study accordingly.

As parents, try to understand your child's capabilities, and make sure you don't set unrealistic expectations; an average student cannot become the top of the class overnight. Set realistic and achievable goals. This will prevent future disappointments, both for you and for them.


“Remember, howsoever hard you may study, your real test is in those three hours in the examination hall. Your presence of mind, your speed and your accuracy will determine your marks.”

—-Chitrangada Sharan

3. Make Time for Exercise and Entertainment

I have known some parents who do not allow their children to play or go outside if they have exams coming up. However, it's important that kids do some kind of physical activity or otherwise give their brains a break every few hours, even if it's just for 15 or 20 minutes. It depends on your child's individual capacity: Some students can sit and study for hours, while others have a shorter attention span. Exercise, physical activities and entertainment help break that monotony.

  • Have your child take a break for some exercise every 2–3 hours while studying.
  • Encourage your child to play games outside. This is a great way to rejuvenate the body and mind (plus, children love it).
  • It's also useful to have your child practice deep breathing and meditation during their study breaks, especially if they have stress-related problems.
  • Some children rejuvenate by watching their favourite TV program or cartoon. There is no harm in this. Let them take a short break with their favourite show.

4. Help Your Child Eat Well and Get Enough Sleep

It's important to follow a disciplined life and have a schedule for everything, and that includes eating and sleeping.
I recommend that students preparing for exams eat light, easily digestible food to prevent indigestion, or other health issues.
It's hard to study when you don't feel well, much less take a test, and this could affect a student's performance in their exams.

You might even avoid dining out over the course of your child's exams and focus on healthy, home-cooked meals instead.

It's essential that your child gets enough sleep, so that their mind is fresh on the day of the exams. Sound sleep is also important, since a restless sleep will not help your child feel refreshed.

5. Remember That Exams Aren't Everything

Both parents and children need to remember this: Performing poorly in an examination is not the end of life. Life provides many opportunities to learn, grow and shine.


“I failed in some subjects in [my] exams. But my friend passed in all. Now he is an engineer in Microsoft, and I am the owner of Microsoft.”

—Bill Gates

Parents: What Not to Do

  1. Try not to be anxious. Your anxiety will make your child even more anxious.
  2. Do not compare your child with other children, and do not get bogged down by what others have done or might be doing.
  3. Supervise your child's studies, but do not make them overly dependent on you. Let them make decisions and plans on their own.
  4. Don't make your child do a post-mortem after each part of the test. Discourage them from discussing particular questions and answers with their friends, too. Focus on preparing for the next day of exams.
  5. Be a good counsellor for your child, but don't hesitate to take advantage of expert help lines if your child is really struggling with exam-related stress.
  6. Avoid meeting with friends who constantly bring up depressing examples of test failure. Stay focused on the positive rather than the negative.

Important to Remember and Follow

Don’t stress

Do your best

Forget the rest

Further Suggested Reading

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2013 Chitrangada Sharan


Chitrangada Sharan (author) from New Delhi, India on March 08, 2016:

Thank you Shaloo, for reading and commenting!

Glad you liked the hub. Please convey my best wishes to your son for his board examination------I remember my days----!

Thank you!

Shaloo Walia from India on March 06, 2016:

My son's board exams are going on and I can so relate to this hub. Valuable tips!

Chitrangada Sharan (author) from New Delhi, India on March 02, 2016:

Thank you Nithya, for reading and commenting on this hub!

This topic is very close to my heart and I feel very strongly about it being a parent as well as a teacher.

I agree with your observation about reservations in admissions and jobs. There is cut throat competition and even after scoring very high percentage there is no guarantee of admission of choice.

Children have to work really hard and they constantly need encouragement, motivation and support from their parents and children.

Appreciate your visit and comments! Thank you!

Nithya Venkat from Dubai on March 01, 2016:

Great guide to help children manage with exam stress. Nowadays scoring marks to get into good colleges with so many reservations in India has become real tough. Parents should help children in every way they can and not pressurize them to get high scores.

Chitrangada Sharan (author) from New Delhi, India on August 14, 2014:

Thank you teaches12345, for your words of wisdom!

Sometimes I feel bad for the children, considering the stress they undergo, if the families are not supportive. It is the responsibility of the grown ups to handle such situations, so that the children do not start thinking that bad results may be the end of their life.

Thanks for your insightful comments!

Dianna Mendez on August 13, 2014:

Exams are stressful no matter what age and having the support to overcome the anxiety is so valuable. Parents, as you wrote, can help children successfully tackle this dreadful experience and make it a more positive approach to learnig. Great article and will help many families out there to understand the process.

Chitrangada Sharan (author) from New Delhi, India on August 13, 2014:

Hi AudreyHowitt!

Thanks for reading and commenting! You are right, test anxiety is manageable with the support of parents and teachers.

Thanks for sharing the hub!

Audrey Howitt from California on August 12, 2014:

Excellent advice! Test anxiety is very manageable!

Chitrangada Sharan (author) from New Delhi, India on August 11, 2014:

Thank you Torss13, for stopping by!

The children of today are mostly stressed and exercise and fitness is necessary to relieve the anxieties they have. As it is, there is lot of addiction for electronic gadgets or the Internet. Whereas what they really need is physical and mental fitness to deal with any unfavorable situations they may encounter.

Thank you so much for reading this article!

Chitrangada Sharan (author) from New Delhi, India on August 11, 2014:

Hi Daisy!

Thanks for appreciating the hub! And I agree that examination related stress is universal. It would not be wrong to say that it is increasing day by day. Children are living in complete stressful conditions, because even after getting good marks there is no guarantee of getting admission in reputed, so called good schools.

So grateful to you for sharing this on HP, G+ and twitter. Thanks!

Tori Canonge from North Carolina on August 10, 2014:

I really like how you talked about allowing children to exercise and play for awhile. I think this is SO important because even as an adult, I need to get up and move around every once in a while.

Daisy Mariposa from Orange County (Southern California) on August 10, 2014:


Thanks for publishing this very informative article. It shows me that stress related to exams is not something found in just one country. It's everywhere.

Chitrangada Sharan (author) from New Delhi, India on July 01, 2013:

Thanks krushnach80, for reading this hub and sharing your views and experiences. I agree with you that there are many demerits in the education system, which need to be corrected for the welfare of the children.

Many thanks for your comments!

krushnach80 on June 30, 2013:

I agree lot of stress during CBSE 10th and 12th board exam and I have felt the pressure of scoring good percentage in both exam ,and those two months are like most terrible period of life either you make it or break it as Indian parents are never satisfied ,and one way our education system in purely responsible for all these kind of ruckus ,but now the scenario has changed till 10th std CBSE students have the choice to write or not write the exam.Fact is our education system should stress on LEARNING not on reading as my teacher would complain to my parents "aap ka baccha padhta hin nahin hai" they never said to my parents that your kid is not "LEARNING" rather "READING" that is the root cause of all these problem exam stress ,some times suicide

Chitrangada Sharan (author) from New Delhi, India on May 07, 2013:

Thanks DDE, for visiting and commenting. Thanks for voting up and words of appreciation.

Devika Primić from Dubrovnik, Croatia on May 07, 2013:

Brilliantly approached on stress caused by examinations, you handled this topic so well. Voted up, and useful

Chitrangada Sharan (author) from New Delhi, India on March 23, 2013:

Thanks Shrikrishnap, for visiting and commenting. You are right about the timing. I remember when my children took the board examination.

Thanks and have a good day!

Shrikrishna Potdar from Bangalore on March 23, 2013:

A perfect post at perfect timing for students. This is like a proper guide for students & their parents who are tensed & are preparing for exams. Thanks for this post.

Chitrangada Sharan (author) from New Delhi, India on March 20, 2013:

Thanks MarieAlana, for stopping by and commenting.

Marie Alana from Ohio on March 20, 2013:

Examination stress is tough. It is especially tough in that part of the world.