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Severe exam anxiety - how to help?(11 Posts)
I’m really worrying about my DD and have run out of ideas of how to help her.
She is 15 and having her mock GCSEs at present, she’s gone from a confident child to an absolute mess in 2 weeks. She is struggling to sleep, vomiting following meals, crying every single day all over these exams. She says she can’t concentrate in a hall where there are loads of other people and her mind goes blank and no matter how much she revises it doesn’t help.
This has been evident in the results she’s had back so far, she only got 15% correct in her maths exam despite maths being her strongest subject and she is currently working at level 8 which I believe is good.
Ive tried telling her that they are only mocks, the results don’t matter, tried coping strategies, calming strategies. Nothing seems to help and it’s affecting her so much right now. It’s awful to see her like this. Today she cried all morning before leaving for school and came home crying as she did badly again. She’s normally so capable and confident, it seems it’s just exams that cause this level of anxiety but how do I help her when exams are a part of her education and there’s no way to avoid them?
I am so sorry- that is very upsetting in so many ways.
I don't have much advice, but just wanted to mention that I have a friend who's daughter takes her exams at home because of her anxiety levels. She talked to their doctor, was referred to CAMHS, and arranged it all in the few months after mocks. This is a girl with some long standing school anxiety, so I think it didn't come out of the blue. I don't know if your daughter's anxiety would be severe enough for this, but I would take her to a doctor and describe what has been happening.
When I took my a level exams I had an anxiety attack before and sat my exams in a room by myself which really helped. Whilst at uni this continued. I had to get a note from the doctor explaining the anxiety in order to sit my exams by myself (with an examiner present) at uni. Could this be an option for your daughter? It really helped with my anxiety as I didn't see anyone before or after the exams so could just focus on myself.
Speak to school..... see if she can take them in a separate room. Short term try Bach rescue remedy , calm app, but do take her to see the gp. Poor girl. And poor you. 🌺🌺
I suggest a two-pronged approach:
She should go to her GP, explain that her anxiety is bad enough to interfere with her exams and ask for a referral to CAMHS. Depending on your area, it might be a bit of a wait to be seen, but hopefully they can offer help such as CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy).
You also need to contact the exams officer at school to ask what arrangements can be put into place ready for next summer. These might include:
- sitting her exams in a smaller room.
- having a supervised break if she thinks she's going to have an anxiety attack.
- sitting in the main room but near the door.
It's possible that the exams officer will ask for medical evidence, which is why she also needs to see the GP.
I would do these things sooner rather than later, as it can take time for the paperwork and referral.
My DD is only Y9 but at her school all end of year exams are run under GCSE conditions (exam hall, invigilators etc). She gets significant nausea during exams (reflux exacerbated by exam nerves). She has antacid tablets in her clear pencil case (somehow just knowing they are there seems to help) and the GP recommended she takes omeprazole when it comes to her GCSEs.
Definitely make an appointment to see the GP. Schools won't give extra consideration without a letter from the doctor. DD is currently sitting A levels and has them in a separate room, but as the school is short of rooms and invigilators she often ends up sharing the room with other people.
This morning she had A level biology and shared the room with 8 students sitting GCSE Citizenship, and last week she had an exam with a load of students doing GCSE geography.
Thank you I will see the GP and see what they suggest. Her results should be back in a couple of weeks. She’s confident she’s failed them all so hopefully that will help show the school the problem as she’s normally a very able student. Part of me wants the school to sit her in a different room but then if it’s the fact she’s taking an exam not the location then that isn’t going to help. GCSEs no longer have a coursework component either so this is really going to affect her grades if we don’t solve it!
Has she always been anxious about assessments, or is this brand new? Is something else undermining her resilience?
Hi, I have a DD16 sitting her GCSe's this year. Very high states of anxiety and low mood, this can alter day today. She has been missing a lot of school too as she says she has out of body experiences and feels very dizzy, this is just in class not just exams situ. The problem is she will not admit to feeling stressed or anxious in any way. Has had blood tests to see if anything physical but all came out normal. Terrible to see her like this. But she will not talk about it and refuses help. BTW. Taken her devices/screens out of her room at 9.30pm, she is actually quite ok about this. Cant do any harm and might help. Anybody else has a DD in denial?
My DD is doing GCSEs this summer. Just had mocks. Two subjects didn’t go well. She’s been anxious for years around school and has got into a state now realising that exams are literally round the corner. Totally in denial for two weeks. Refusing to do any revision at all. Encouraging, cajoling, threatening, bribing. Nothing works. And then suddenly she gets a good mark in English and Biology and her confidence is back up and she’s starting to do some work. Not much but a bit. It’s made me realise that at 16 it’s pretty much down to them.
She is able to sit in a quite room for exams and has extra time. This was suggested by the school from last year when she came to the school with previous anxiety. They are pretty good at supporting her.
OP definitely worth speaking to the school about quiet room etc. My Dd says there’s more kids in the quiet small room than left in the main hall which she now finds quite amusing. But the stress is awful around exams. I’ve said do your best I’ll be proud of you whatever happens. It’s not the end of the world if they don’t do well, there’s plenty of other paths to a good career and adult happiness.
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