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Conquer the Exam Stress!

To many kids these days, studying means texting, eating and watching TV with an open textbook nearby. I did it myself when I was studying during my school days, just so that I could keep awake to study for my exams and also to destress. Then again, our study life during those days was not as stressful as that of the children of today.

With the keen competition and the expectations from parents, the children now are under a lot of stress especially when it comes to EXAM time. Or rather parents and children will be undergoing exam stress together. Some parents and children will suffer from headaches, sweaty palms, rapid heartbeats, anxiety, insomnia, poor appetite or even sadness and fear when they know that exam time is coming. So how are we going to cope with exam stress? Read on to find out more.

1. Relaxation

Sign up for massage, yoga, manicure and pedicures sessions for mommy to relax before and during the child’s exam period. The parent should also engage in activities that promote relaxation with the child, such as strolling along the parks or beaches, exercising or just listening to music. Spending time on fun activities will definitely lighten the mood and drive away stress when preparing for exams.

2. Positive thinking 

This is very important during stressful times. Helping the child learn how to think positively from a young age will enable the child to have a much greater chance of leading a happy and healthy living. To do so, we as adults must first be an exemplary role model and think positively. Get the child to share about any positive event that happened during the school day. When the family and the child are thinking positive, there is lesser chance of stress arising when preparing for exams.

3. Time management 

Start preparing for exams at least a few weeks before the exams instead of doing it at the last minute. Sit down with the child to plan the timetable to prepare for the exams and make sure your child sticks to the schedule. It may not be possible to plan every minute of his/her day around studying for the exams, but more importantly is that he/she has put in the best effort.

4. Be realistic 

While planning on the timetable, we have to be realistic. Sit down with the child to go through the timetable and ensure that he/she can manage the tasks allocated. There should be enough rest time allocated in the timetable so that the child will not be tired out. After all, a timetable is not meant to over-exert the child in exam preparation. On the other hand, we should also set timelines for the child so that he/she will not sit on the tasks given and not work on them.

5. Deal with expectations

Besides being realistic, parent should not over expect the child to deliver. Every parent will know their child best. The parent should deal with their own expectations and set expectations that are can be obtained by the child. When high expectations are not met, parent and child will easily become stressed, which will lead to negative thinking. All these are interrelated. Rather, raise your expectations slowly based on the pace of your own child.

6. Prioritisation

Work with the child to prioritise the revision plans for the exams. The child should be given more time to revise on weaker subjects, instead of being loaded with assessment books, ten year series and other learning materials. The parent should assess the child and focus on the aid that will best help the child to prepare for the exams instead of getting the child to spend time working on unnecessary materials.

7. Family support

Knowing that exams are a particularly stressful time for children, how can we as parents support them better? Try to be with the child physically and emotionally. Make an effort to take leave and spend time revising with the child. When children are stressed, they will be able to cope better when they know their parents are constantly by their side rooting for them. It will increase their level of confidence and thus do better during the exams.

8. Healthy living 

Instilling a healthy lifestyle for the child even before the exams will help prepare the child for the exams physically, mentally and emotionally. Maintaining regular physical activities, eating a healthy and balanced diet, and having a good sleeping routine will boost the child’s health greatly. Having enough sleep and rest is very important so that the child will have the energy to sit for the exams.

9. Learn through the right way 

Different children learn things in different ways. Observe your own child and determine his/her learning behaviour. Children are generally classified under kinesthetic learners, auditory learners and visual learners. Kinesthetic learners learn best when they can move around and engage their small and large muscle groups. This group of children will need hands-on learning tools to learn. Auditory learners learn best while they are actively listening. They prefer to derive information through audio or video clips, or by discussing a topic. Visual learners on the other hand, learn best by watching. Try to have eye contact when talking to visual learners and provide visual aids such as charts, diagrams, pictures for visual learners to learn.

10. Reward and incentivise

Try to reward and incentivise yourself and the child after the exams, especially if the child can achieve good results. You can plan holidays or even outings, watching movies and plays, indoor and water playgrounds, or shopping for a gift. This will not only incentivise the child to perform well during the exams, it will also motivate him/her to look towards the reward after the exams.


Though exams are unavoidable, what we can do as parents is to help ease the stress that the child needs to go through before and during the exam period. Share with the parents in “Exam Coming. Who is more stressed?” and find out “Are Singapore students too stressed out?“. If your child is taking or planning for PSLE, you should also join in the discussion in “2015 PSLE Discussion and Strategies” or “2019 PSLE Discussions and Strategies (Children born in 2007)“.


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