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How to De-stress Before the Test

The last couple of weeks on our blog we've talked a lot about exam prep - specifically revision, but another part of exam prep is managing stress the week before and the day of the exam. A lot of children feel immense stress over exams, and as the 11+ exam is the first exam they likely will ever have taken, no amount of revision will keep them from being at least a little nervous. Managing stress is important for your child's mental health, for their performance during the exam and for their performance during future exams.

1. Be Realistic

Has your child procrastinated a little? Don't worry, we understand. With only a couple of weeks to revise, aiming for a high grade isn't always helpful - it puts unnecessary pressure on your child and will likely render any studying pointless as they will be too busy worrying to absorb any information. Being more modest about the grade you expect your child to achieve will help them relax and might inadvertently be the reason they score well.

Cramming in as much information as possible isn't helpful either. We recommend making sure you have the fundamentals covered, and then if you have time, go over the more advanced skills that your child struggles with. Keeping topics your child struggles with fresher in their mind will aid with recall when they are doing the exam. This is especially helpful if they are landed with a highly marked question they otherwise would not know how to answer. Even if they don't answer the question fully, attempts will likely earn them marks.

2. Eat, Sleep and Move

This one is pretty obvious, but we say it because in the midst of exam anxiety, it can be easy to forget about basic things like sleeping well and making sure you move, getting some sunlight. Getting a full 8-9 hours, eating a hearty slow-releasing breakfast like porridge, bringing familiar stationery, a water bottle and going to the toilet right before the exam can make the difference between complete concentration vs multiple distractions. Having a morning dance and sing-along will help your child get into a positive mind-frame and get all the jitters out, as well as any energy that may come out as fidgeting once they have to sit down and be quiet.

3. The World Won't End

Whilst the 11+ exams are important, if your child doesn't get the grade they were hoping to achieve, it is imperative they know that it isn't the end of the world. Part of why children get exam anxiety is the massive weight they put on its importance. To a child, failing an exam can make them feel like the rest of their lives are doomed. In reality, these exams merely exist to get your child into a rhythm with studying and exam-taking in preparation for GCSEs and A-Levels where they are required to be more independent and vigilant. Getting a good score is fantastic and lets us know your child is on a good trajectory but isn't a determining factor in their future.

4. Believe!

Telling your child in various ways that you believe in them is a sure-fire way of boosting their confidence and motivation to study. Whether it is verbally, on a post-it note, a letter you put in their lunchbox or through a song, you can never go wrong when telling your child you believe in them!

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