Help students to take a load off

Stressed students

Feeling the pressure

An article in TES reported on a survey carried out in 2018 which found that almost two-thirds of students in FE feel very or extremely stressed about exams. The survey further found the most significant stress factors are, firstly, students putting pressure on themselves and, secondly, teachers. So, with this research finding in mind, we need to be aware of how students are feeling and to help support them manage their stress about their exams.

A full plate

Jam-packed timetables, deadlines, worry about assignments, low grades, challenging classes, juggling a job, responsibilities at home, poor time management and worry about the future can all lead to a build-up of stress which can cause students to burnout. You can help students to manage and minimise their stress by discussing some of the following techniques which they might find useful. Some of these techniques may need teaching so talk to your students as soon as you so you have time to include what your students need into your course. Don’t wait until exam-season!

  • A Study Environment
  • The first task here is to find a good quiet place to study. This may be a space at home, in the college or even at a local library.


    The second task is to then make the space one that is conducive to study. Music can be helpful for some and for others removing clutter can help clear mental clutter.


    • Be Organised
    Give your students a course outline or college calendar which includes deadlines and exam dates so they can keep track of assignments, plan their time and set priorities.


    Help your students develop a system for note-taking. This will really help them with assignments and revision.


    • Manage Time
    Good time management will relieve stress. Encourage students to set up a study schedule so they can set their own goals and feel more in control with their studies.


    • Practice and Feedback
    Give students plenty of opportunity to practice exam-style questions and in the lead-up to exam season give them opportunities to work in exam conditions.


    Show students what success looks like – give them exemplars, past student work (with permission), exam board criteria. These materials can be used to promote peer- assessment and self-assessment. Students can then see where they need to focus their attention and set themselves goals accordingly.


    Feedback on their work continually. Remember that feedback can include effort as much as content.


    • Open Communication
    Being approachable is probably the single most important thing you can do for your students. Let them know that you are there for support and advice, as a group and as individuals. This will help students to feel like you are on their side.


    Share your own experiences of being a student and what helped you. Invite past students to talk to the group to share their experiences too.


    • Create a Positive Environment
    This is mostly achieved by your own interaction with your students. Being friendly and approachable and having a sense of humour will all help to create a positive ethos.


    Take time to work on the dynamics in the group so they feel comfortable with each as well as with you.


    Most of all, be relaxed yourself!


    • Keep Calm
    Talk to your students about the importance of making time for themselves to help them relax. Encourage them to include doing something they enjoy in their study schedule.


    Importance of Managing Stress

    Reducing stress in everyday life is vital for maintaining overall health. Stress has a powerful impact on well-being. Helping students shift into a healthier pattern with their approach to study can help to reduce stress. Working with students to help ease stress can hopefully avoid anxiety issues escalating, therefore, making happier students.

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