Year 12 exams - managing stress (2022)

About managing exam stress

Year 12 exams can be very stressful. Many students feel pressured to do well – to get into certain courses, or to please their family. On top of that, young people may be stressed about the uncertainty of what will happen once school ends. You can’t study for your child, but the good news is there are some simple ways you can help your Year 12 manage the stress of their exams. Eating well, sleeping well and taking time to exercise and relax from study will all help your child to stay healthy as exams approach.

Managing exam stress with good nutrition

So, what’s the best way to nourish your child’s body to help them cope with exam time?


Eating enough protein can help with learning, memory and mood, and retaining information for the long term – just what your child needs.

This means including foods such as lean meat and fish, eggs, nuts and seeds, beans, dairy and whole grains in your child’s diet. This article in the Conversation has some great suggestions.

But remember, too much of anything is not healthy. Protein should make up about one fifth to one quarter of your child’s daily diet.

(Video) Exam Preparation | Managing Stress


The brain also needs energy and nutrients to repair and maintain brain cells. Glucose is the brain’s main energy source, and it comes from carbohydrates. But carbohydrates come in different forms, so think about what you put on your child’s plate. Complex carbohydrates – found in wholegrain cereals, breads and pastas, and in fruits and vegetables – are absorbed slowly in the bloodstream, which means energy is released and is available over a long period. Complex carbohydrates keep students more alert and able to concentrate better for longer. Simple carbohydrates – found in foods such as cakes, biscuits, lollies, soft drinks and white bread – give a quick energy hit, but are followed by a tired and sluggish feeling. Sugary foods and drinks can lower concentration levels and memory function – the last thing students need when they’re trying to study.

What about caffeine?

Caffeine causes the body to release adrenaline, which produces a ‘flight or fight’ response. Your hands get cold, your muscles grow tense, you feel excited and your heart beats faster.

And once the adrenaline wears off, you face fatigue and difficulty sleeping. Another dose of caffeine can get the adrenaline flowing again, but having the body in a state of emergency, jumpy and irritable all day, isn't healthy.

For students, one coffee a day is plenty (though it’s better to have none at all). And having it earlier in the day is better.

The best drink for the brain is water. A good tip is to fill a 1.5 litre bottle at the start of each study session and sit it on the desk with a glass. Your child can then work through it as they study.

On the day of the exam…

Before they sit their exam, make sure your child has eaten a light, healthy meal. As throughout the study phase, protein and carbohydrates make a good combination. Think: baked beans on a wholemeal muffin with a sprinkle of grated cheese. Or try one of these suggestions:

  • a multigrain or wholemeal sandwich made with salad and your choice of egg, tuna, fresh turkey, chicken or ham
  • chicken and vegetable noodle soup
  • vegetable stir-fry with tofu and rice
  • grilled fish and salad with a small baked potato.

And for a snack, your child could try:

  • cereal with milk
  • fruit and yoghurt
  • cheese and wholemeal crackers
  • dried fruit and nuts
  • carrot sticks and hummus.

Exercise is great for managing stress too

We all know exercise is good for general health and fitness, but it gives the brain a boost too. Exercise can be energising and refreshing, and it will help keep your child alert during exams.

(Video) How To Nail The HSC While Managing Stress

Encourage your child to exercise regularly, even if they have lots of study to do. They don’t have to run a marathon every day. A 15 minute walk can be enough to revitalise the mind.

While it may seem like an essential part of studying, sitting at a desk looking at books or a computer for a long time is not good for your child’s health. They will function better if they take regular breaks from study. They could use this time to walk around the block, shoot a few hoops or get out a yoga mat.

If your Year 12 is worried about missing out on study time, they could try to combine exercise with learning. Putting headphones on and listening to study notes that they have recorded or downloaded is one way. Or they could just listen to their favourite music – research shows music improves concentration and learning.

Rest and relaxation is necessary

When studying for exams, rest and relaxation is important for physical and mental health. It gives muscles a break, and it also relaxes the brain and aids concentration.

Here are some different relaxation techniques your child can try:

  • Mindfulness
  • Visualisation. Start by imagining a peaceful place. Then focus on relaxing different parts of the body, working down slowly from the top of the head to the tips of the toes.
  • Breathing. Place one hand on the chest and the other on the tummy. Take slow, deep breaths, so the tummy pushes against the hand. Then hold a breath for as long as is comfortable. Slowly exhale and repeat. (Your child could try ReachOut’s mobile app Breathe.)
  • Muscle relaxation. Slowly tense and release each muscle group. Start with the toes and finish with the head.
  • Or they might like to use ReachOut’s worry time app to help keep calm.

The importance of sleep

When your child is stressed and feels like they don’t have enough hours in their day, it’s easy for them to stay up late studying and cut back on sleep. But they will have a better chance of doing well in their exams if they get enough sleep.

A good night's sleep improves concentration levels and brain power the next day. It is better for students to be rested and clear-headed than exhausted and foggy.

If your Year 12 is having trouble sleeping, suggest some of the relaxation techniques mentioned on this page.

(Video) Managing Exam Stress

Friends can help with study

Year 12 exams are guaranteed to bring stress. And a little stress can be a good thing. But you don’t want your child to feel overwhelmed.

If they are having trouble coping, they might like to talk about it with their friends. Most will understand the situation and will be happy to chat. Talking things through brings lots of benefits. It can clear your child’s head and calm them down, and may even help them solve tricky study questions.

Your Year 12 might like to find a ‘study buddy’ or two, or set up a study group. Small groups (up to six people) can work well, and help keep your child motivated and engaged. Study groups can be an opportunity for extra discussion, a chance to test each other, or a reward for study time spent. Study sessions can be before or after school, and about an hour is good.

If your child prefers to study silently, a study buddy can help keep them accountable. They can tell each other what they want to achieve that session, and check in with each other at the end.

It’s important your child doesn’t feel weighed down by their workload. One way to do this is to prepare a study timetable for all their subjects well before exams start. ( ReachOut has a great example.) They should decide how much study time they need for each subject, thinking about how much work they have to do and when each exam is scheduled.

A useful strategy is to assign each subject a colour, so the timetable is easy to read. Each subject can be broken down into the topic areas that need to be covered, and then under each of those topics goes a list of precisely what needs to be studied.

It’s a good idea if your child starts filling in one subject at a time, and then spreads the topic areas out evenly over the timetable. Allocating a mix of subjects each day will help them avoid getting bored.

Make sure they factor in plenty of time at the end of the period to revise and do some practice exams. If they leave their revision to the day before the exam, they won’t have enough time to work on the problem areas.

(Video) Tips for managing HSC and exam stress | 7NEWS

It’s okay for your child to be flexible with their timetable – it’s likely to change as they go along and understand more of what they need to do.
Your Year 12 might like to check out this sample of preparing an exam study timetable.

Take breaks regularly

Your Year 12 should take breaks regularly. Many people find the 45/15 rule works well – study for 45 minutes and break for 15 minutes.

In that 15 minute break, your child could walk around the block, make a smoothie, do some yoga, play a video game, plan a holiday or take a power nap. After that, their next 45 minutes of study is more likely to be focused and efficient.

Encourage your child to remove distractions, and study in an area that is separate to where they relax. That way they won’t be tempted to chill out when they’re meant to be studying.

Suggest they put their phone and laptop out of reach. If they need their computer for study, they could consider disconnecting it from the internet.

Top tips for tests

Know yourself. Your child needs to find what different methods of study work best for them, and what times of day they are sharpest.

  • Work on critical thinking skills. This is all about connecting what your child is learning with what they already know. It takes time, but understanding what they are learning can make exams a whole lot easier.
  • Practise exam techniques. Doing past papers within the allocated time frame is a great way to prepare for exams.
  • Prepare well the night before. It is important your child eats well and has a good sleep the night before an exam. They should have a healthy breakfast, and get to the venue early. Once there it is a good idea to relax, revise a little and keep away from stress-heads.
  • Don’t cram. Cramming will only stress your child. Encourage them to take a deep breath and have confidence in what they know. If they combine this with some common sense, and they think things through logically, chances are they will be fine.
  • Get back to basics. When your Year 12 gets stuck on an exam question, they need to think about the important concepts and key topics.

Life after learning

And don’t forget to remind your child there is life after Year 12 exams!

Whatever your child wants to do with their life, there’s always a way for them to achieve their dreams. If they have determination and a positive attitude, and are willing to do whatever it takes, they can always get where they want to go – they might just have to take a different route to get there

(Video) Week 12: Managing Stress


How can I reduce my grade 12 stress? ›

6 important tips to help you deal with high school:
  1. Make a study schedule.
  2. Make time for yourself to relax or play sport.
  3. Don't talk about how stressed you are - this just makes you more stressed.
  4. Get more sleep.
  5. Don't critisize yourself or others.
  6. Think about the good - be greatful.
17 Aug 2018

How Grade 12 learners can manage stress when they are preparing final year examination? ›

You can't study for your child, but the good news is there are some simple ways you can help your Year 12 manage the stress of their exams. Eating well, sleeping well and taking time to exercise and relax from study will all help your child to stay healthy as exams approach.

How can I stop stressing exam results? ›

How to reduce anxiety while waiting for exam results
  1. Recognize that it's happened and in the untouchable past. ...
  2. Stay mindful. ...
  3. Talk it out to bring it down to size. ...
  4. Take on activities that foster a sense of control. ...
  5. Stay occupied with comforting exercises.
3 Dec 2021

How do you handle exam stress during exams? ›

Try these tips and tricks:
  1. Stick to a routine by eating and sleeping at around the same time each day.
  2. Get a good night's sleep. ...
  3. Give yourself mini rewards once you achieve your study goals – watch a TV show or go for a run.
  4. Keep focused on your study – don't let other stuff like friendship worries distract you.

Are end of Year 12 exams important? ›

Year 12 is an academic step up from year 11 and year 13 a step even further. Waiting until the end of year 13 to care about this is a big mistake. You need to take internal end-of-year exams seriously.

Why is Grade 12 stressful? ›

Matric (Grade 12) is a highly stressful time for many reasons. With matric being the final year of high school, there is a lot at stake for learners. Not only do they have to worry about their exams, but they also have anxiety about being accepted at university.

Is Atar worth the stress? ›

Because ATAR's primary purpose is to get you into college, your ATAR score will only be relevant during your admissions. If you've been stressing out over your ATAR for the past couple of months, or even years leading up to Year 12, then you should realise that this ranking won't affect your entire career.

Are Year 12 mocks important? ›

They make revising in Year 13 a whole lot easier

Preparing properly for your Year 12 mock exams means you'll be learning and memorising the course content more gradually and going over it more times. This will take the pressure off when it comes to your final exams in Year 13.

How do you focus when studying for exams Grade 12? ›

Top 10 study tips
  1. Have all your materials ready before you begin studying – pencils, pens, highlighters, paper, etc.
  2. Be positive. ...
  3. Take a walk outside. ...
  4. Break up your learning sections into manageable parts. ...
  5. Keep your study sessions short but effective and reward yourself with short, constructive breaks.

What should I do the night before my exam results? ›

Distract yourself

The exams have long passed, and worrying won't make results come faster. Therefore, students should focus on spending their time on things they enjoy that can help distract them. For example, they could watch a movie or hang out with friends.

Can test anxiety make you fail? ›

Test anxiety can lead to poor performance on tests. Here's how to recognize the symptoms and find ways to manage the anxiety.

What is the fear of exams called? ›

0. Examinophobia – The Fear of Exams is Genuine. If you regularly become excessively nervous before or during an important exam, you may have examinophobia that is exam fever. This is a very common phenomenon among students especially when an important examination is approaching next to you.

Why do I fail even when I study? ›

The problem: You procrastinate studying, not leaving yourself enough time to absorb the material before test day. The solution: Create a routine that involves reviewing your notes regularly. Each night, take a few minutes to go over your notes from class.

How do you get rid of exam anxiety on exam day? ›

Here are some strategies that may help reduce your test anxiety:
  1. Learn how to study efficiently. ...
  2. Study early and in similar places. ...
  3. Establish a consistent pretest routine. ...
  4. Talk to your teacher. ...
  5. Learn relaxation techniques. ...
  6. Don't forget to eat and drink. ...
  7. Get some exercise. ...
  8. Get plenty of sleep.

Why do I have exam anxiety? ›

Exam anxiety may be related to: Negative past experiences of exams. Lack of adequate preparation, or knowledge of exam-taking techniques or study methods. Unhelpful thinking about the exam situation (e.g., “I'm going to lose control!”), yourself (e.g., “I can't do this.”), and/or outcome (e.g., “I'm going to fail.”)

Do grades matter Year 12? ›

Are year 12 exams important? Yes and no. Year 12 exams are sometimes called 'UCAS exams' because they're the exams teachers use to give students predicted grades for their UCAS applications. If you want to be absolutely sure of your predicted grades you need to do well enough in your end of year 12 exams.

Is 12 harder than 11th? ›

Hi 11th standard is comparatively tougher than 12th. so before starting 11th class go through the basics and formulas related to 11th class and try to solve questions of math, physics, chemistry from NCERT book.

Why do you have such a low score in 12th? ›

First is that I wasn't ready for the pressure that came when I stepped in standard 11th. It got tougher in 12th and I lost all interest in it. I managed to pass in all subjects but couldn't get top scores. The second reason would be my growing interest in experiments and outside the class activities.

How difficult is Year 12? ›

VCE Year 12 is a year of hard work and huge commitment, but it's also a very social year with many chances to step outside the education bubble and let your hair down, especially with the 18ths that seem to be held almost every weekend. With so much going on it can be hard to find a balance between study and life.

How do you survive year 12? ›

Year 12 survival tips
  1. Ask for help when you need it. ...
  2. Stay organised. ...
  3. Don ™t over-commit yourself. ...
  4. Mix up your study routine. ...
  5. Take time to research your post-school options. ...
  6. Stay calm and keep things in perspective.

What is the most stressful school year? ›

While junior year is often the hardest year of high school, the transition from middle school to 9th grade can also be tough. To make it easier, don't feel afraid to reach out to your teachers and counselors, and take advantage of the support resources that are available.

At what age does ATAR not matter? ›

are a domestic student. will be 21 or older on 1 March of the year you will commence study. did not receive an ATAR (or equivalent) or if your ATAR was below 70.

Is a 75 ATAR hard? ›

An ATAR of 75 is hard to get when you consider that only one in four people manage to do it.

What is the lowest ATAR possible? ›

The ATAR is a number from 0 and 99.95 in intervals of 0.05. The highest rank is 99.95, the next highest 99.90, and so on. The lowest automatically reported rank is 30.00, with ranks below 30.00 being reported as 'less than 30'. Find out more about how ATARs are calculated.

What if I fail my Year 12 mocks? ›

You can do either of the things you mentioned - gap year and apply with your actual grades, or repeat Year 12 to try to improve your grades.

Does it matter if you fail your mocks? ›

Failing your mocks won't amount to much. The mocks are just to show you what you need to work on to then eventually get the best grade you can in your final GCSE exams. If you do fail, don't worry too much about it because it won't go towards anything in your future.

Do universities care if you retake Year 12? ›

Almost all universities, including Oxford and Cambridge, officially accept exam resits, meaning that there's no chance of being barred from applying. However, the university will be aware that you've achieved the grade by resitting, and so may affect your chances of receiving an offer.

How many hours should a Grade 12 study? ›

Your pass at the end of the year will impact on your future prospects at university, on your career and your general quality of life. Therefore in Grade 12 you should not leave your studying until the end of the year. You should be working for at least two to three hours a day throughout the year.

How can I focus 100% on studying? ›

Here are eight tricks and tips for eliminating distractions and paying attention to what you need to do:
  1. Prepare Your Brain. Before a task, calm your brain, says Venezky. ...
  2. Understand Where Your Focus Needs To Be. ...
  3. Unplug For 30 Minutes. ...
  4. Grab Some Coffee. ...
  5. Check the Thermostat. ...
  6. Turn On Some Music. ...
  7. Take Short Breaks. ...
  8. Doodle.
26 Aug 2015

What should you not do the day before an exam? ›

Procrastinating things

The students should not leave things to be done on the last day. The exam approaches before such students are prepared for the exam. Postponing the study of important or complex concepts for a day before the exam is no good. A student cannot get things done on the last day before an exam.

What should I do 1 hour before an exam? ›

  1. Relax. It is essential to keep yourself stress-free and calm before an exam, as stress only serves to impair memory and paralyze you during the exam. ...
  2. Eat Fibre Rich Foods. Watching what you eat is extremely important, especially right before an examination. ...
  3. Exercise. ...
  4. Confirm you have everything. ...
  5. Be on time.
26 Mar 2021

What should you not do before an exam? ›

The night before an exam should be spent getting in the right mindset. However, students often fall into these common mistakes: not having dinner, drinking too much caffeine, re-reading over their notes, cramming and not getting enough sleep. All these mistakes can result in them not performing their best the next day.

Does test anxiety affect IQ? ›

The study found that students who reported higher levels of anxiety were also the ones who scored higher on tests. Because the evidence gathered in this study was self-reported, more research is needed in this area to fully understand how or why verbal intelligence may be linked to stress and anxiety.

Why do I feel like I haven't studied enough? ›

The first reason is probably because you did not organize your study sessions properly. That means you did not have a set time or a time table to have your study sessions on each week. As a result, you do not know exactly how much time you need to study each subject and this makes you very disorganized in your studies.

Why do I forget everything when I take a test? ›

Large levels of norepinephrine enter the PFC and serve to dampen neuronal firing and impair effective communication. This impairment essentially clears out your working memory (whatever you were thinking about is now gone) and stops the rational, logical PFC from influencing other brain regions.

What to do when you don't feel like studying before exams? ›

Refuel with some good food, drink plenty of water, have a bath, watch some trashy TV, read a book, go to bed early… Take time for yourself and come back to it tomorrow. The second caveat is to either study or rest INTENTIONALLY. Either get up and do something productive or have some down time and relax.

What percent of students suffer from test anxiety? ›

Approximately 25–40% of US students suffer from test anxiety. Many college students experience academic-related anxiety during their collegiate careers.

How can I attend exam without fear? ›

How to Overcome Exam Phobia: 10 Useful Tips
  1. Early Revision: An early revision will help you complete studying for the exam before time. ...
  2. Make Your Timetable: Every student has a different method of studying. ...
  3. Have a Plan Ready: ...
  4. Mix Subjects: ...
  5. Prepare Notes: ...
  6. Take Breaks: ...
  7. Sleep Well: ...
  8. Maintain Your Handwriting:

How do I stop stressing about high school grades? ›

7 Tips to Help You Stop Stressing Out Over School
  1. Make a study schedule.
  2. Find something interesting in the material you are learning.
  3. Make time for yourself.
  4. Don't keep talking about how stressed out you are.
  5. Ask for help.
  6. Say no to things you won't be able to handle.
  7. Remind yourself that life moves on.
6 Oct 2014

How do I stop stressing over high school? ›

Eat well, get enough sleep, be physically active (find out more about getting active), cut down on alcohol, and take time to relax as well as working and studying. Read about the 5 steps to mental wellbeing. Avoid drugs, including lots of caffeine - this can have a negative impact on your stress levels and wellbeing.

How do you overcome stress in high school? ›

Addressing School Stress for High Schoolers
  1. Focus on breathing — taking long and slow deep breaths while disengaging one's mind.
  2. Body scan — concentrating on different body parts while releasing tension and relaxing.
  3. Mindfulness meditation — sitting in a comfortable position and paying attention to the present moment.

How do I stop high school stress? ›

When stress becomes a problem, dive into these 6 hot tips on how to deal with school stress
  1. Create an organized workspace so you can reduce your school stress – ...
  2. Avoid all-nighters – ...
  3. Build mini breaks into your schedule – ...
  4. Yoga and meditation are proven to reduce school stress – ...
  5. Exercise the stress away –

What is the most stressful year in high school? ›

While each year of high school will have its own stressors, many will say junior year is the most challenging. Junior year can be the hardest for several reasons, but with the right prep and expectations, high school students can make the hardest year just a little easier.

What is the most stressful grade in school? ›

1 11th grade
  • 11th grade is the worst year of high school. ...
  • Stress for college starts picking up and you have to recover from all of you past mistakes throughout high school.

How Do I Stop overthinking my grades? ›

Instead, congratulate yourself for the things you did well and learn from the areas where you think you could have done better.
Avoid ruminating about your performance.
  1. Identify your fear. ...
  2. Ponder the worst-case scenario. ...
  3. Realize what you cannot control. ...
  4. Turn mistakes into learning moments.

Is crying over school normal? ›

Although crying is a perfectly normal human emotion that we all experience sometimes, it can be embarrassing to cry at school. Fortunately, there are a number of tips and tricks that can help you to hide your tears at school if you are having a rough day but don't want anyone else to know about it.

Why does school make me cry? ›

Maybe you are extremely stressed from the work load and homework. Maybe you are getting bullied. Maybe you have toxic friends. Maybe you have no friends and are lonely.

How do you deal with stress and fail a grade? ›

5 Ways to Cope with Grade Repetition Stress
  1. Remember, you're not a failure. I understand that failing at something can make you feel depressed about it, or like you're worthless. ...
  2. Reach out for help. ...
  3. Look at it as a second chance. ...
  4. Make your school work a priority. ...
  5. Focus on the future.

Why is high school so stressful? ›

They might feel pressure to fit in, to be popular, and to have a lot of friends — whether these are real friends or not. And as teens get more independent, they may find themselves in new and even risky situations where they need to make tough choices.

How do I care less about my grades? ›

The tips on what to focus on as a student besides grades:
  1. Be the student you want to be. ...
  2. Don't be afraid to ask questions during classes. ...
  3. Don't be a teacher's pet and a yes-person. ...
  4. Keep studying and working hard, let your work do the talking.
  5. Stay organized and positive.
24 Jan 2021

What are five stress management techniques for high school students? ›

These options are relatively easy, quick, and relevant to a student's life and types of stress.
  • Get Enough Sleep. ...
  • Use Guided Imagery. ...
  • Exercise Regularly. ...
  • Take Calming Breaths. ...
  • Practice Progressive Muscle Relaxation (PMR) ...
  • Listen to Music. ...
  • Build Your Support Network. ...
  • Eat a Healthy Diet.
26 Aug 2022

Do grades cause stress? ›

The statistics on depression, anxiety and suicidal ideation rates among college students tell a very similar story. Academic stress is directly linked to these health crises, and grades are a major source of this kind of stress.

Why is studying so stressful? ›

While learning new things is always exciting, when you're doing a course you have the pressure of needing to get a certain mark to pass. This means that studying and doing assignments can be stressful. Studying also takes a lot of time, and it can be hard to balance it with your other life commitments.

Why are students so stressed? ›

Factors such as homework, social life, perceived parental pressure, university applications, and never-ending workloads all generate stress. Although research shows that a moderate amount of stress can be beneficial and act as a motivator for students to do well, too much stress can impact their overall well-being.


1. How To Cope With Exam Stress | This Morning
(This Morning)
2. Teacher Webinar: Managing Exam Stress
(ReachOut Australia)
3. How to Manage Stress as a Student
(Med School Insiders)
4. Webinar: Helping your teenager manage exam stress
(ReachOut Australia)
5. Managing Stress - Brainsmart - BBC
(Smile With Sola)

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