How to support a friend doing exams

If your friend is facing a stressful time with exams, let them know you're there to support them
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Illustration of to friends studying - supporting a friend doing exams

It’s that time of year where you might have a friend doing the Leaving or Junior Cert and you can see the wave of anxiety that pours over them during the two weeks of June.

It can be hard to know how to help or offer your support during this time but half the battle is letting them know you’re there.

How to help a friend doing exams 

Know their timetable 

If you are familiar with their schedule, you know when it might be a good time to stop by for a chat or when it’s not. You can also send them a quick message before their exam to let them know you’re thinking of them.

Bring snacks 

When they’re distracted by studying, your friend probably isn’t paying too much attention to their food intake. Visit with some healthy snacks in tow like blueberries, nuts, or dark chocolate.

Talk about their last exam (but not too much)

It’s good to talk things out especially if they feel an exam didn’t go too well, but there’s no point dwelling on it. Encourage them to let it out, but also to accept that the exam is over now and there’s nothing more they can do, so it’s time to focus on the next one.

Go outdoors

If you think your friend has been cooped up for too long, try to bring them for some fresh air and go for a bit of a walk, even if it’s just to the local shop for some of those healthy snacks!

Be their study partner

Some people work well alone when it comes to study but others can work differently. Offer to do some Q&A style study with them if they feel like changing up their pre-exam routine.

Try to keep them calm

It can be easy to get sucked into the ‘end of the world’ conversations about whether or not your friend will get 600 points or their first choice, or who wrote 10 pages in their exam today. Remind them that all they can do is their best and there are plenty of ways to do the courses and jobs they want to do that aren’t necessarily through the CAO.

Talk to their parents 

It can help to chat to your friend’s family during exam time and see how they are feeling about how your friend is dealing with exams. If you feel they have a supportive family and you are worried about your friend, let their parents know so that they are also aware of how your friend is feeling.

Remind them to take a deep breath

If they’re feeling anxious before or during the exams, recommending some breathing exercises or simply reminding them to take a few deep breaths could help them manage the stress.

Find out about using breathing exercises for anxiety here.

Contact them on social media

Try not to disturb your friends too much on whatsapp and social media (and don’t be insulted if they’re not getting back to you), but the odd post or message with encouraging videos, memes and pictures could be a good idea!

Go to the exam centre

If your friend doesn’t have anyone bringing them to the exam hall, offer to go with them. Sometimes it can be the hour before an exam when stress can really take over so if you can help keep the nerves at bay, do! Meet them on the lunch break or for the walk home.

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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