Exam time is the time to shine – good pressure, bad pressure…


For many families this time of the year is associated with all sorts of emotions as young people prepare for the all-important summer exams. The truth of the matter is that sometimes the parent is more anxious than the child who will be sitting the exam. Most young people themselves are aware of the importance of examinations and the potential impact it can have on their prospects for the future. However, different children respond to the challenge in different ways.

Examination time needn’t be as stressful and full of anxieties as it so often is for many teenagers and their families. There are practical steps that can be taken in order to reduce stress and anxiety. Examinations are a part of life and they are very important. Some of the pressures associated with exams serve a very useful purpose – for example by helping to prepare for later life. However, there are all sorts of bad pressures that are not useful and should be avoided at all cost. Exams are like other key events in life, in which failure to prepare is a preparation in itself: – Failure to prepare means prepare to fail.


The word pressure is usually associated with bad influences and experiences. However, pressure can be positive as well as negative. Looking at pressure from an easy-to-understand but scientific point of view, here are a couple of situations in which pressure can be used in a good way:

  1.       When you are cutting your vegetables, you want a sharp knife as it helps to cut through easily. This is due to the fact that you can use less effort cutting as opposed to more effort when the knife is blunt. A sharp knife exacts more pressure as all your effort is concentrated on a small surface area at the end of the blade of the knife
  2.       When you are driving and the wheels of your vehicle go flat, it is because there is very little pressure inside the tyres. A lack of pressure is creating problems and you need to put in air which will put more pressure inside the tyres.

Successful people have at some time in the past experienced real pressure – either self generated or imposed on them by their environment. Most successful people go out of their way to engineer pressure – many times they do not set out to intentionally create the pressure but when they plan and execute their goals, they come across real pressure and the only way they succeed is to maintain the pressure and make the best of it.

Negative pressures

Negative pressures are easily understood as the word pressure itself has negative connotations. From a scientific point of view, if you find yourself sinking into the mud, you don’t want to run faster but you want to lie or position yourself horizontally thereby increasing the surface area in contact with the mud and so reducing the pressure.

There are many people who work very hard and are under pressure all the time throughout their lives but are unsuccessful. The sad fact is that for many of those unsuccessful people, the pressure never goes away and even sadder; they do not achieve the results they desire despite all the pressure. It is often the case that the two ingredients that are missing are a lack of preparation and failure to do more thinking – asking more questions along the way. I must say that thinking without taking concrete and persistent action usually results in an unrealised dreams as nothing is ever achieved. The only achievement that comes with dreaming without acting is ageing and gathering of cobwebs!

In my view, all real and lasting achievements start with desire. It all starts with the mind, by making a decision about what one wants, putting a plan in place and then taking action on to achieve the things you desire. This is a philosophical argument that we can go very deep into but I will not be doing that here as there will be time in the future to explore that notion further. What I will do in this article is make some practical suggestions and point you to resources that you may find useful as a parent. You may want to read through, have some thoughts about and share some of the thoughts with your son or daughter, with a view that some of the material will help that young person think a little – or perhaps reassure them (him or her).

There is an awful lot of materials available these days that are helpful to prepare young people as they move closer to examinations time. I will refer you to some of our past contents and also provide you and your son or daughter with certain little tips – some are quite simple and straightforward whilst others require a little more thinking. Below are some of the points that help to guide the thinking process before achievement can be realised.

  1. Desire and decision
  2. Concentration and discrimination
  3. Asking
  4. Believing
  5. Doing something
  6. Have Courage

I will not yet be explaining each of the concepts that I have highlighted above as I’ll like to give you time to think about of them. In my next article, I will be explaining each of them by sharing with you, my own interpretations of each of those concepts. With my own children, although they are young, I try to do more asking than telling, as it is usually a more effective learning experience when you ask young people more questions than you tell them. The idea is to try to get them to come up with there own solutions by asking them questions and trying to lead them to what you think is the solution. You as an adult actually learn more yourself during the process whilst at the same time your son or daughter feels empowered more than they would have if you just tell and tell. This will cost you a little but the outlay is not by dipping into your wallet. It is more expensive that that; your investment it Time. Believe me it is worth every second.

Watch out for my next blog, which is later this week.

Below are some of the blog articles that we have written in the past, which you may find helpful