SCHOOL'S worrying enough at the best of times - with one report claiming nine in 10 pupils suffer stress.

This is the part of the year when it gets worse.

Yes, exam time is approaching again.

More than five million students across the UK will be feeling tense as they prepare to sit down for their GCSEs, A-levels or degree exams.

Nerves will be hitting many of them.

Around exam time, the number of calls to organisations like the Samaritans and Childline increases dramatically.

Pauline Rawlinson, director of Huddersfield Samaritans, says: "We get young people who are worrying about their exams.

"What you have to remember is that there's so much hanging on the exams. They feel their whole future depends on them.

"We give them the opportunity to talk through it with us and usually that helps in most cases."

The position is mirrored at other helplines.

Ellie McRonald, a Childline supervisor based in Leeds, says: "We do get a lot of calls around exam time.

"A lot talk of the pressure they feel - whether it's pressure from their school or family to do well or the pressure they're putting on themselves.

"Often it makes other problems in their lives, such as something at home, feel even worse."

There's no doubting that too much stress can affect a child's health and can hit their concentration.

But what can be done?

Kirklees Council faced criticism in the past when it began handing out dried fruit and bottled water to young people taking their exams.

Despite the flak, it's something that will be continued.

Jim Dodds, Kirklees Council Cabinet member responsible for education, explains: "I can understand that some people might think it a waste of money, but we're here for the kids.

"It's clear that staying hydrated improves your concentration by making people feel more alert.

"Bottled water is much better for them than the fizzy drinks they might grab beforehand which are full of additives and preservatives.

"We also try to spell out that they should have breakfast before going to school as it makes a real difference to energy levels."

The council runs a website - - full of tips on how to handle the worry of exams.

Clr Dodds admits it's a tough task to try and guide young people through testing times.

"It's easy for us to tell them not to panic," he says, "but we're not the ones doing the exams.

"We realise that exams are hugely important and there's a lot riding on them, but not to panic really is the answer.

"What we have to do is spell out the best ways of trying to cope with it all," he says.

Linda Blair, a clinical psychologist specialising in exam stress, says organisation is the key to eliminating tension.

"There's nothing more useful than planning ahead," she advises.

"Work out how many days you have to revise and roughly how much time each day.

"Then guess how much time you'd like for each subject and fill a little calendar with what you need to do, starting from the last day and moving back to the present.

"That way you don't spend the first 25 minutes of each day thinking: 'What do I need to do'."

She also recommends not working for longer than an hour at a time, taking at least 10 minutes' break at the end of each 60-minute block and studying at the time you feel most alert during the day.

If you do find yourself starting to worry, she has a simple breathing trick to calm yourself down.

"Put your books down, close your eyes and breath in through your nose slowly, counting 1,001, 1,002, 1,003, 1,004, then breathe out through your mouth doing the same thing.

"Repeat that 30 times, and you'll save yourself from a panic attack almost every time."


4 Try to work to a revision timetable - start planning well before exams begin - your teacher should be able to help you with this.

4 Make your books, notes and essays more user-friendly with summary notes, headings, sub-headings, highlighting and revision cards. Try using key words or spider charts. Get tips on other revision techniques from teachers and friends - do what works for you.

4 Everyone revises differently - find out what routine suits you best - alone or with a friend; morning or late at night; short, sharp bursts or longer revision sessions.

4 Take notes of important points when revising as an aid for future revision or if you need to clarify something with a teacher. Try explaining the answers to tricky questions to someone else, or look at past exam papers and try answering some of the questions.

4 Ask for help if there are things you don't understand. If you're feeling stressed out, talk to someone.


8 Don't leave revision to the last minute.

8 Don't avoid revising subjects you don't like or find difficult.

8 Don't forget that there is life beyond revision and exams.

8 Don't cram all night before an exam.

(Advice from Childline)