In fact, the researchers from Edge Hill University in south Australia found that worried pupils scored up to one and a half grades lower than their cool cucumber peers.
The research was carried out in 2012 in partnership with exam board AQA. It involved 325 pupils who were surveyed three to four months before they took their GCSEs.
The teens, all from the north west of England, were asked if they agreed or disagreed with 44 statements about exam worries, their confidence levels and any strategies they used to cope with stress and anxiety.
These were some of the statements included in the questionnaire:
- “I am anxious while taking exams.”
- “If I fail an exam I am afraid I will be rated stupid by my friends.”
- “During exams I find myself thinking about the consequences of failing.”
The results, which were presented to the British Educational Research Association (Bera) on Thursday, highlighted a significant link between stress and bad performance in exams, regardless of the students’ previous achievements.
The researchers claim that having a calm state of mind can be the difference between a B and an A* grade, highlighting the importance of offering emotional support to young people during the exam period.
One researcher, Dr Dave Putwain of Edge Hill University, says these findings prove that exam stress – i.e. worrying about exams and exam performance, can have a ‘detrimental’ effect on grades.
So how do you spot signs of exam stress? If you, a friend, or family member is currently in study they may be experiencing a higher level of stress than normal. This is because, by nature, the education system is highly pressured, fast-paced and usually examination-orientated. This constant assessment and barage of expectations can eventually take its toll and have a notable effect on marks.
Some of the most common signs of stress include frequent crying, feeling and looking exhausted, becoming more reclusive, being emotionally volatile and changing one’s eating/sleeping patterns.
To find out how a counsellor might be able to help, please visit our Stress page.
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