How to reduce exam stress over Christmas

Every single year, the pressure to perform well in exams increases. Due to limited spaces and stricter entry requirements, it’s no surprise that students develop a sense of anxiety and stress throughout the exam period. A recent survey from Mumsnet1 revealed that two thirds (65%) of parents say exam pressure is affecting children’s mental health.

Reports also shows that one in ten (11%) parents of children aged 13 or over say it affects their own children’s wellbeing ‘severely’. As a sad consequence, 9% of parents say their child has visited a GP or other healthcare professional due to exam stress or anxiety. For parents who want to protect their children, there are many ways to help combat exam stress and the potential mental health implications that it can have.

“It’s all about finding the right balance,” says Frank Milner, President of in-home tutoring company, Tutor Doctor. “Although revision is a necessary part of the Christmas break, it doesn’t mean that children have to suffer in any way. There are practical ways to help children create a balanced way of learning, without being left overwhelmed and, crucially, still being able to join in with the festivities.”

Here are Frank’s top tips for Christmas revision that won’t ruin the season of goodwill:

1. Plan in social events:

Factoring in spending time with loved ones is equally important as blocking out time for revision. Find what works for your child but have a focus on their sense of wellbeing at the same time. Spontaneity is great but when it comes to revision, sticking to a plan is key. Having social timings planned, either as a family or with friends, and then crucially, sticking to them, forms a vital part of any learning schedule.

2. Create a revision timetable (and stick it on the fridge!):

Once you’ve clearly marked a calendar with any social events, you can then organise revision times. That way, everyone can see what children are meant to be doing at a specific time – meaning you, and they, can be strict on getting down to work. Far from being draconian, this method promotes productive study-time and allows for guilt-free down time too.

3. Take regular breaks:

When blocking out revision time, it’s important to plan in breaks. Students need to allow their brain to rest for a while, so it can continue to retain information effectively. Similarly, knowing when to stop is crucial. Getting to bed at a reasonable time and switching off on revision heavy days is key.

4. Prioritise workload:

Using a red, amber and green system can help your child prioritise their work in a way that becomes manageable. Red means feeling clueless, amber means having some idea but needing a little refresher and green means they’re comfortable and confident in that area of knowledge. This simple traffic light system can help to create a clear schedule for revision by indicating how much time students need to spend on each specific subject.

5. Keep study varied:

Sometimes, there’s nothing worse than being stuck in front of a computer screen or notepad, away from the festivities. Especially when the house is filled with the sounds and smells of the holidays. Mix up your child’s learning method to keep their brain active and engaged: switch from revision cards to mind maps or introduce brain exercise games so they don’t become stagnant. Bring learning to the party every now and then by getting members of the family to assist with test questions and readings. Revision doesn’t have to be boring!

6. Find a tutor:

I guess we would say this, but even if it’s for a couple of hours a week, working with a tutor will help your child to tackle problem areas or sticking points more effectively. Children and adults alike tend to avoid or procrastinate when it comes to working on things which we either don’t fully understand or feel that we dislike. Students are a prime example of this! Working with a tutor in weaker subjects or on particular areas will encourage working to a schedule, enhance learning methods and boost confidence for exams.

7. Ban comparison with their friends:

This is one of the biggest setbacks when it comes to progression. Constantly comparing themselves to others will hinder your child’s performance in a way that could be detrimental. Encourage and support them by reminding them that everyone is different and that extends to learning styles too so, what works for their friends, may not work for them. And try to remember and communicate to your child that, whilst important, exams don’t determine who they are as a person.

8. Keep your own ambitions in check:

Quite often, parents place undue pressure on their children to do well, leaving them feeling that their only option is to succeed. Instead of reminding your child how important exams are (believe me, they’ll have plenty of that at school) try working with them on some of the above. Support them by talking through any worries they may have – communication can sometimes be lost when people are stressed, so being able to chat about any concerns is crucial (and if they don’t speak to you, encourage them to speak to a friend/teacher).

The Christmas period is a happy time, but for some students it can become stressful very quickly. The pressure to do well in exams, mock and full, is very real. By addressing the issue and making revision a talking point in advance, you can help your child to minimise stress and actually improve the quality of their learning at this time.


For more information, or to speak with Frank directly, please contact Liam on 07395 641 523 or

Images attached: Student with tutor.



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About Tutor Doctor

Tutor Doctor is the fastest growing in-home tutoring franchise in the world. Business owners work with families to thoroughly asses a child’s needs and then carefully select the best-fit tutor based on goals, personality and learning style. Instead of the tired old centre-based model, tutors visit students at home or work via a state-of-the-art online learning platform so that students can learn in the comfort of their own home, at a time that suits them. For today’s busy families, this is a real benefit! The company was established in North America in 2000 and started its global expansion in 2003. It now has over 500 franchised offices in more than 14 countries and a network of 16,000 tutors. Operations in the UK began in 2009 and since then the company has experienced growth of 50% year on year and now has 80 franchise owners in the UK. The company is a proud member of both The Tutors Association and the British Franchise Association.

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