Helplines warn of increasing problem of exam stress in Wales

Exam stress is a particular problem at this time of year. Credit: PA

The pressure is on at this time of year for thousands of students here doing GCSEs and A-levels, and young people's helplines are warning that more and more pupils in Wales are experiencing exam stress.

Our Education Reporter Tom Sheldrick has been to meet two pupils, who we will be following through the summer until they get their exam results.

Marco Gil-Cervantes from Welsh advice service MEIC Cymru says that exams are often the first time youngsters experience prolonged pressure.

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ChildLine says that, for the first time ever, exam worries have emerged as a top concern for those getting in contact here.

ChildLine bases in Prestatyn and Cardiff delivered nearly 1,170 counselling sessions about the issue in 2013/14 - making it the fifth most commonly reported concern to ChildLine in Wales last year.

Across the UK as a whole, the charity says the number of children seeking counselling for exam stress trebled over the last year.

MEIC Cymru says that young people revising for, sitting or awaiting results of their exams accounted for 10 per cent of its contacts during 2014-15.

The Welsh helpline says 19 per cent of exam-related queries were in relation to mental health.

Read below for links to information and advice on exam stress

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Amy Beaumont, a supervisor for ChildLine in Cardiff, says many young people who get in touch say exam pressures are affecting their sleep, their health and wellbeing, and some are having anxiety or panic attacks.

She admits that it is difficult to explain why the problem of exam stress is getting worse.


This year, to really understand what it's like taking GCSEs and A-levels, we're following two students as they do final revision before sitting their exams, and then pick up their all-important results in August.

The pressure is on for schools particularly to improve the performance of pupils from poorer, and disadvantaged, backgrounds.

Around a third of pupils at Lliswerry High School in Newport qualify for free school meals, because their parents receive certain benefits, and around a third of pupils have learned English as an additional language.

Majd Aljeroudi is 16, and taking his GCSEs. He's originally from Syria, and moved here with his family to escape the conflict there two years ago.

He's hoping to get As and Bs in his exams, to stay on in the sixth form at Lliswerry, and study medicine at university.

He says he manages to keep exam stress under control, but does put himself under pressure to do himself justice in exams.

Nicole Barfoot is 18 and from Briton Ferry. She's one of a growing number of youngsters around Wales taking their A-levels at college. In her case, it's the Neath campus of NPTC Group.

She's taking drama, history and the Welsh Baccalaureate, and hoping to get around an A, B and a C. She needs 260 UCAS points to get into her first choice, Cardiff Metropolitan University.

She suffers from stress and anxiety both when revising, and particularly when preparing to go into her exams, as she says she doesn't want to let people down.

We will be seeing both Nicole and Majd again in August, as they open their envelopes and see if they have got the grades they need.

Exam stress advice

For more information, advice and details of how to get in touch with the helplines if you need to, head to their websites...

Click here to visit the ChildLine website

Click here to visit the MEIC Cymru website