If you have kids in high school, final exam week is just around the corner. Year-end projects are nearing completion, which leads to study packets and a stressful time for students and parents.
Exam stress can be the result of a number of factors or situations such as:
Fear and inability to accept failure;
Negative outlook or self-talk;
High or unrealistic expectations;
Being unprepared;
Family issues; and
Test-taking anxiety.
Here are some tips that can help you prepare your students for final exams.

1. Encourage them to finish strong. Whether your kids are coasting by or struggling, now’s the time to encourage them to work exceptionally hard. I’ve encouraged my daughter to do everything she can to improve her grades ahead of her finals. Some of the things she is focusing on are:
Completing extra credit;
Retaking exams or making corrections;
Receiving tutoring; and
Studying more in the evening.
If your students aren’t motivated, find something that can change their behavior. My daughter turns 16 in September. She knows she needs a B average to be eligible for the “Good Student” auto insurance discount.
2. Create a distraction free study zone. Final exam time is when the “rubber meets the road.” Study time needs to be efficient, productive, and distraction free. Set up a space that’s quiet and conducive to studying. If your students have been studying in their bedrooms, now may be the time to have them study at desk in a different part of the house.
3. Monitor your students’ smart device usage. For many of us monitoring our children’s smart device usage is a constant struggle. It’s estimated that kids spend one-third of their day using their smart devices. Consider downloading an app that can reduce their usage. I recently installed an app on our phones that allows us to create usage schedules. When the schedule activates, my daughter can only text or make a phone call.
4. Create a study schedule. Due to the amount of content, students may have difficulty figuring out what, when, where, and how to study. Create a plan they can follow. This will help them focus on studying their curriculum instead of focusing on the logistics of studying. Experts recommend studying no longer than an hour without a break.
5. Create a balance. While doing well on final exams is important, studying shouldn’t be their only focus. They should continue to do things they enjoy. Exercising or spending time outdoors can help them stay mentally focused and healthy.
6. Make balanced and nutritious meals. Eating healthy on a consistent basis is always a good goal to have. However, hectic schedules makes it difficult. During exam time, try to reduce the amount of junk food they eat. Foods high in carbohydrates and sugars can leave students feeling tired and unable to concentrate. Also, minimize their caffeine intake. Excessive caffeine can make them feel hyperactive or anxious. With the amount of stress and pressure they’re already feeling, they definitely don’t need to add to it.
7. Ensure they get plenty of sleep. Make sure your students continue their normal sleep patterns. All night cramming sessions are one of the worst things they can do. Lack of sleep makes it difficult for people to retain and recall information.
8. Stay realistic with your expectations. It’s easy for us to create high expectations for our children. While the world is a competitive place, we can’t lose sight of reality. Not every grade our child earns is going to be an A+. Some days, situations, and exams don’t go as planned.
9. Help them learn from failure. Here’s a quote from Winston Churchill. “Success is not final, failure is not fatal; it is the courage to continue that counts.” If your children fail exams, be a good listener. Let them share how they feel. Continue to encourage them to work hard, and to do their best. Lastly, tell them you love them!
10. Take care of yourself. Final exams can be stressful for parents too. Trying to manage your students’ extracurricular activities, study time, as well as your workload can be overwhelming. Don’t forget to continue doing what you enjoy to help reduce stress.