Managing Examination Stress


Conducted by: Chan Jia Min (Social Worker) & Phoon Pui Yee (Social Worker)

Conducted on: 12th September 2015


Examination is an inevitable component of Singapore’s challenging education system. It is also something that causes stress among school children and their parents. Stress is commonly associated with negative feelings and outcomes when not handled well. 


Greater anxiety pharmacy and stress experienced by children results in poorer academic performance (Owens, Stevenson & Hadwin,2012). Research by Hancock (2001) found that students with higher levels of examination stress tend to perform poorly and are less motivated in their studies when they are in a classroom environment where they are always undergoing tests. 


 Another study by Sue and Okazaki (1990) suggested that academic stress in the Asian context stems mainly from a child’s expectations of self and pressure from parents and teachers to excel. Failure to meet expectations leads to a loss of ‘face’ and lowers the child’s self-esteem (Yeh & Huang, 1996). 


Therefore, it is essential that parents help children to learn how to manage their examination stress at healthy levels so that they will continue to stay motivated,confident and do well in their examinations!


Signs that your child may be experiencing examination stress:

·        Loss of appetite or overeating

·        Sleeplessness and drowsiness

·        Low mood

·        Loss of concentration

·        Negative self image

·        Anxiety and fear

·        Falls sick easily

·        Self-harming or suicidal thoughts


Methods for your child to relax and de-stress:

1.     Deep Breathing: Helps to slow down heart rate and regain feeling of being in control

        Breathe in deeply. Hold breath for 5 counts. Release breath slowly. Repeat a few times until feeling calmer.

2.     Stretching exercise: Helps to relieve stress and tensions in the body.

3.     Listen to music: Calming music can help to sharpen your child’s focus.

4.     Laughing: Laughter is a great stress reliever! It can be done through telling jokes, playing games or watching cartoons.

5.     Take breaks and rest: This will ensure better concentration. It is important to allow your child to unwind through play and doing things that he or she enjoys.

6.     Talk to someone: It is important for your child to have a trusted adult to share his or her concerns with. Set realistic expectations, communicate them clearly to your child and give him or her positive affirmations.


If your child is in distress and needs a trained and trusting adult to talk to, these child-friendly help lines are recommended:

        a.     Tinkle Friend: 1800-2744-788 or (Available both over phone call and internet chat)

        b.     Ec2: (Available only over internet chat)


Good luck in the upcoming final year examinations! 



Hancock, D. R. (2001). Effects of Test Anxiety and Evaluative Threat on Students' Achievement and Motivation. The Journal of Educational Research. 94 (5):284-290.

Owens, M., Stevenson, J., & Hadwin, J.A. (2012). Anxiety and depression in academic performance: An exploration of the mediating factors of worry and working memory. School Psychology International. 33(4): 433-449.

Roper, K. Top ten relaxation techniques for children. Retrieved from:

Sue, S., & Okazaki, S. (1990). Asian-American educational achievements: a phenomenon in search of an explanation. Am Psychol. 45:913–920.

Suterwala, S. (2013). How to deal with exam stress [Presentation Slides]. Retrieved from:

Yeh, C.J., & Huang, K. (1996). The collectivistic nature of ethnic identity development among Asian-American college students. Adolescence. 31:645–662.