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  • Katherine Finn

Exam Tips

Exam season is upon us in our house as my eldest prepares for her GCSEs. I remember all too well the feeling of dread in the lead up to the ‘testing’ times during my own school and university education and I wish I’d known then about all the ways we can help ourselves into a positive mindset in order to have the best chance of fulfilling our potential.

There’s so much we can do to look after our children through the weeks ahead. Firstly, making sure they have our empathy and understanding by validating but also normalising their feelings. I’m not sure anyone particularly enjoys exams but perspective is key - this is just a moment in time and the summer holidays are waiting on the other side.

Counting down to the final day and making freedom plans will produce serotonin and enhance well-being. This powerful neurochemical also aids memory for retaining all those key facts they’ll need access to. It encourages appetite too and a nutritious diet will fuel energy levels and maintain physical health.  

Exercise, fresh air, natural light and time spent in nature are proven stress busters as we benefit from the release in endorphins which helps to discharge a build-up of anxiety and restore a positive balance.

Generate dopamine by scattering treats through their exam timetable to incentivise and reward their hard work as well as providing necessary brain breaks and time to be creative because we all need moments when we can press pause and reflect. Dopamine encourages motivation, concentration and learning and is assisted by enough good quality sleep to fully relax and recharge between each day.

Oxytocin helps to reduce anxiety and sadness whilst boosting our self-worth and immune system and is created through bonding with others (humans and pets). Smiling, making eye-contact, giving and receiving hugs, sharing, caring and acts of kindness all contribute. Laughter and music are also powerful mood enhancers.

Empower your child to believe in themselves by recognising their qualities and strengths and exploring how these will be useful in shaping their experience of the next couple of months.

Picturing how they would like to be thinking, feeling and behaving assuming all goes well will be far more constructive than allowing the worst case scenario to cloud their future.

Best of luck,


BA (Hons), DipSFH. Reg AfSFH, CNHC, NCP

I use a variety of techniques and practical tools to help my Clients deal with stress and overwhelm so that they can feel calm, confident and in control. Please contact me if you’d like to find out more. As always, do help yourself to my relaxation recording which you can download for free at


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