How to handle exam results anxiety

Find out how to manage your anxiety around exam results time
Written by
A student

Waiting for exam results can be a nerve-wracking experience, especially when you are expecting results from exams like the Leaving Cert or college summer exams.

You might feel nervous and stressed leading up to results day, however this is normal and a little bit of stress can actually help you to get motivated for dealing with problems and pressure. If the stress becomes all-consuming and it’s hard to take your mind off of it, that’s a sign you could be suffering from anxiety.

Stress and anxiety at exam results time

Exams are stressful. First there’s the lead up in preparing for the exams, then there’s the day of the exam itself, and once it’s all over, you’ll have to wait to find out how you did. It’s understandable that you might be feeling anxious around this time.

Waiting for your results

Leaving Cert students have faced a lot of uncertainty in 2021, and Accredited Grades have added to these feelings of stress and anxiety. It is hard to know what grade to expect if you haven’t actually sat an exam, so it’s normal to be feeling confused or unsure about what will happen next. Remember that no matter what results you get, you have lots of options, including appealing your grade. If you want more information on calculated grades or you would like to talk to someone about your options, you can chat live with a Youth Information Officer.

You may be having a mix of feelings about your results, especially since you never had the opportunity to sit the exam. This could include confusion, relief, guilt, disappointment, frustration, or other emotions. If you’re feeling upset or overwhelmed about your results, the CAO, or your plans for the future, our anonymous 24/7 text message support service can connect you with a trained volunteer who will listen to you and help you to move forward feeling better.

Free-text SPUNOUT to 50808 to get started.

Find out more about our text message support service.

Why am I so anxious?

Some of the reasons you might be anxious about your results include:

  • The pressure to get good results for the course or career you want
  • Pressure from family or teachers who expect you to get good results
  • Comparing yourself to other people in your class or on your course
  • Worrying about what your results might mean for the future
  • The stress of not knowing and having to wait

These feelings are normal. Your friends are probably feeling the same way, so talk to them about your worries.

How to handle exam results anxiety

There are a number of things you can do to minimise the impact of stress and anxiety around the time of exam results.

Know that failing an exam does not make you a failure

Remember, if you fail an exam, you are not a failure – you are still a good person, just a good person who failed an exam. Usually, failing an exam only means you have to repeat, and you’ll have plenty of time to prepare. This might delay your plans, but having to repeat is not the end of the world.

Failing an exam may also lead to a change of direction to get to where you want to go, or it could open up a new path entirely. There is always another way to achieve your goals.

Stay calm

When you get your results, take a few deep breaths before looking at them, and remind yourself that no matter that they are, it doesn’t change anything about who you are as a person.

Decide whether you want someone with you or if you would prefer to look at your results alone. Whatever you choose, make sure to talk to someone about how you’re feeling after you see your results.

Avoid people who could stress you out

Sometimes, friends or the people around us can make us feel worse about a big event like exam results coming up. Try to get some space from these people and focus on yourself.

Make time for self care

One of the best ways to handle stress is to make time for ourselves. Think of something you like to do, whether that’s playing sport, reading, watching films, or any other activity that makes you feel good. Try to spend some time doing these things as a way to unwind and take your mind off things.

If you have a friend who’s also feeling anxious, there are plenty of things you could do together.

Try some relaxation techniques

It’s really important not to let anxiety take over your life. Try using different techniques to help you relax, including breathing exercises.

Here are 9 ways to manage anxiety you can also try.

How to reduce stress at exam results time

Here are some things to try when it comes to reducing your stress levels while you wait for your results.

  • Talk to someone about how you’re feeling, like a friend, family member, or a counsellor
  • Take time to do something you enjoy
  • Go for a walk or do some exercise
  • Try to be mindful and avoid getting caught up in your thoughts
  • Try to do some stretches or some yoga to relieve tension in the body
  • Make time for self care

Remember, not all of these suggestions will work for everyone. You may need to try a few different things before you find what works for you.

Find out 10 tips for dealing with stress.

Need more information?

We are here to answer your questions and talk through your options. Our online chat service is for 16 to 25 year olds and is available Monday to Friday, 4pm to 8pm. Chat to us now about your situation.

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