Coaching Issues on Dealing with Exam and Study Stress

Copyright 2006 Ron Mills

No matter how much you want something for someone else you cannot set goals for that person and rely on them being achieved. The power within goal setting lies in the fact that the individual decides and commits to the actions to be taken and the outcomes desired. Having said that, coaching young adults is different from coaching adults because very often the young person does not yet have the life skills to find the answer for themselves and therefore input and suggested courses of action may be required by the parent or the coach, however, it is still up to them to decide what they want.

I would advise any parent to encourage their children to discuss their fears and issues about revision and exams and the stress they might feel under and offer support, understanding and some practical suggestions like the ones listed below.

1. Make a study plan and share it with the family and get their support in making your plan succeed. It’s often said that people don’t plan to fail, they fail to plan.

2. Identify the best time of day for you to study, not too late and not too early. Let people know that this is your time for revision and ask them to respect this.

3. Use quick revision tools that work for you. Create lists of facts, flash cards, mind maps whatever will help you. Carry them with you and in quiet moments during the day take them out and do some speed revision for 5 – 10 minutes.

4. When revising for exams set a goal or outcome for every revision session don’t try to cover the whole subject in one go, chunk it down into manageable sections this avoids being overwhelmed by the task and boosts the sense of accomplishment by giving lots of small achievements. There’s an old question that goes “How do you eat an elephant?” to which the answer is “One mouthful at a time”. Exam stress is also a problem for some young people and they might want to practice some relaxation techniques to help with this, here are a few.

1. Remember to breathe. When we get nervous we tend to breathe rapidly in a shallow manner high up in our chest. Slow your breathing down and breathe deeply so that your stomach moves in and out.

2. Our emotional state is often linked to our posture so sit with your back straight and try not to slouch over your desk. This helps with breathing and more importantly promotes an alert state of mind.

3. Go on holiday for 30 seconds. Close your eyes and picture your favourite holiday destination. See how different the light is, feel the touch of the breeze on your skin and hear the sounds all around you.

Finally for both parents and young people, yes it’s important to get the results you want but it’s not the end of the world if you don’t. If you really want that result you can find many ways to achieve and even exceed it remember there is no failure only feedback, use what you learn to improve your chances next time.