A psychotherapeutic approach to the new GCSE and A-level exams

It is going to be that very stressful time of the year again, when thousands and thousands of young adults will take examinations to decide their future. This year however, there is a twist. The entire format of the GCSE and A-level examinations have been changed. The change of these examinations has meant the following:

  • The marking criteria significantly has changed, the pass mark is no longer ABCDE, but is 12345.
  • There are no 'practice papers' or 'past papers' to revise with.
  • Students worried that they will not have the necessary grades to progress in further education.
  • Teachers are worrying about examples, and frantically attempting to teach everything on the syllabus in the hope that they cover the right information to ensure that their students successful.
  • Senior leaders (school management) are worried that a sharp fall in results will have implications for such things as league tables and possibly triggering OFSTED inspectors to visit their establishment.
  • OFSTED have been targeting schools, specifically Maths, English and Science departments to ensure that key subjects are up to par. One English teacher in an online article this week reported that they had inspectors in the classroom three times in the same day. Trust me that's a lot of pressure.

Everybody is worried, everybody is stressed, and everybody's frantically attempting to do the best for their collectives. Below is a set of advice on some techniques that you can use to help you get through the stress of whatever level you're at.

Visualisation/mindfulness: These techniques that can help you when you're under a lot of stress, my own personal favourite is to imagine all your stress and worries were put onto a train and you send them all to an unknown destination. However, if you're more artistic and prefer a kinaesthetic approach, mindful colouring is also very popular and focusing on a specific relaxing task can help lower stress levels.

Self hypnosis/hypnotherapy: These techniques are very good for people who are visual. It can be used to help combat stress, visualise solutions, improve your meditation experience and build confidence. Hypnotherapy is also good at exploring the unknown. It gets you to imagine possibilities that you might not have considered.

Counselling: Absolutely fantastic if you want to talk things over, explore new avenues, consider options by having a neutral perspective in the room. It can be surprising what you can uncover and solutions you can form just by talking to somebody who is impartial. What counselling offers as offers you the opportunity to explore things a little differently, and counselling techniques often to get us to think outside of the usual close thinking.

In closing, I will offer you some advice from a person who was in the education system for many years, not only as a student, but also has a number of staff working in school.

  • Exams are important, but they are not the be all and end all. An employer will not only judge you on your qualifications, but you're worth ethic and personality.
  • People are sympathetic, if you don't get the grades that you want you can always resist until you get you can try again.
  • Socialise with friends and comrades and do not over revise, as it is counterproductive.
  • I guarantee you I have been employed as an English teacher in the past, and when I went for the interview for the job I was not quizzed on subjunctives, transitive verbs, etc. Therefore, not all knowledge is essential. Go in knowing what you need to know, and continue to learn in your chosen profession, as learning truly starts after you leave education.
  • "Do not dwell on the house of failure for too long, as you will grow accustomed to it" one of the most powerful quotes that I had ever remembered from my schooling days. (And I learnt this outside of school). Basically, the quote is telling you to faith in yourself, because if you dwell on your mistakes for too long you will continue to make more mistakes. When you make a mistake, learn from it and learn how to get it right next time.

I wish you all the best of luck with your coming examinations.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author. All articles published on Counselling Directory are reviewed by our editorial team.

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Normanton, West Yorkshire, WF6 2DB
Written by Brian Turner, BA (Hons.) MNCS Snr Accred / Supervisor. (Prof. Dip PsyC)
Normanton, West Yorkshire, WF6 2DB

I am a psychotherapist with extensive experience in educational field. I use a diverse and wide spectrum of techniques to ensure that my clients in to their examination feeling empowered and confident so they are able to achieve what they wish to achieve.

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