The stress of school exams



Yes it’s that time of year when the dreaded school exams come into play. I remember doing them myself way back in the day and just thinking about those moments turns my stomach somewhat. I never did enough work and therefore never achieved the results that I thought I deserved. This infuriated my parents which resulted in a lousy start to the Summer holidays. All in all a terrible few weeks of the year!

So after this period of 10 or so years from secondary school right through to graduating, I felt free as a bird when I got my first job and took a flatshare with my friends. Those days of cramming were well and truly over. Now I could go on holiday at any time of the year, and May and June were no longer meant for hiding away in my bedroom, but were full of the joys of Summer cavorting in the parks and barbecuing when the feeling took hold!

Another 10 -15 years on and enter (stage left) children! Yes I have been whisked back to the days of old again, except it’s now worse than I remembered. This time not only do I have to do the same amount of work (granted, maybe not to as high a standard but in meticulous detail nevertheless), but I then have to make sure that I force feed this information to my two children which is akin to actual force feeding, such is their distaste for knowledge of this kind. This makes for a very stressful May half term where I emerge as the bad parent who hasn’t allowed her children to have playdates or spend three hours a day on the X-box (because clearly, according to them all their friends do this and I am being very unreasonable) or indeed do anything apart from chain themselves to a desk and recite times tables or Latin conjugations 10 times a day. Sound familiar?

The thing is, whilst it is true that school exams are not supposed to be something to get overwhelmed by and the important thing is to work and play in moderation without burning the candle, in truth most parents want their children to do well. Of those parents, some will help their children during half term and some will leave them to get on with it although with children as young as 7 this would be quite difficult as the word ‘revision’ will be one which raises a few inquisitive little eyebrows, followed by bewilderment when it dawns on them that they won’t be seeing their friends every moment of every day during the holidays! Whilst it is important to get the balance right, it is also important to let your child understand that exams are just par for the course and they have to deal with them as part of their school life.

Unfortunately, just when you think you have got used to the annual exams, the pre-tests comes along to bite you in the proverbials. (or 11+, etc..) Now for me, these have been just a bridge too far. We have only just come out the other side with my son’s last interview being two weeks ago but the whole process started back in November last year. So to then expect him to sit school exams after a mammoth 7 months of preparing for tests and interviews, has understandably taken its toll…..on me!! Oh, he’s fine and has been fortunate enough to receive offers from a few schools but the stress I have gone through has aged me considerably – a process I know only too well will be back with a vengeance in three years when son number two has to sit!

Anyhow, as I write this, both sons are hours away from the end of exams – therefore to celebrate, I will be opening a bottle of bubbly in around the next hour as a prelude to another few bottles later in the evening! Yes, exams are over for another year – thank goodness. Here’s to a Summer of fun!






  1. Marilyn (Monroe)
    June 10, 2018 / 10:47 am

    Help! I’ve come up for air having spent an anxious evening (awful nights sleep to boot) registering for three (possibly 2 more to follow) private secondary schools for my son. I feel a complete hypocrite for even applying for public school, having sworn blind I’d never ever send my children to private schools. You know, the usual suspects: educational advantage owing to being in the “we can afford to elevate our own precious children’s lives and to hell with all the others” bracket (still sits uncomfortably) elitism, blah blah and blah. Yet there I was, hanging my head in shame as I was forced to provide information as to my husband’s occupation and mine ( desperately seeking some kind of employment that allows me to be there for my kids sans buying in the childcare, can I really put down “volunteer ESL teacher to asylum seekers which is what I do) as if this info will increase my child’s chances. If parental ccupation does have a bearing on applications being accepted or not that is just plain wrong isn’t it?? Still feeling bad BUT the fact is that as intelligent as my son is, he will simply get lost in a class of 30 kids, and will not reach his individual potential so therefore mea culpa, humble pie, apologies to all who know me and my staunch values on equality. Self betrayal. The list goes on…and on…. yes we have a tutor for my son (still working behind expectations at state primary- oh help) and now for the preparation for 11+ over the next 3 years. Not looking forward to any of it. Just hope that it will all be worth it in the end and that I will be swimming in champagne as opposed to throwing myself into the Thames. But thank you Diamonds and Spice for a great post- at least I now have an idea of what’s ahead !!! (HELP) XXX

    • Anusha
      June 10, 2018 / 12:49 pm

      Oh Marilyn, I hear you loud and clear! It’s terrible that we even start feeling guilty about sending our children to private school, and then, the moment they are there we feel guilty about how they are being worked too hard and they shouldn’t have so many exams! Anyway, hope all goes well and do report back!!

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