Wednesday, 6 June 2018

Exam Stress and Sport - Mark Burley, Director of Sport

The importance of maintaining regular involvement with sport and exercise during the exam season can't be underestimated.  There has been a growing tendency to see exclusive blocks of revision as the only option to produce exam success, withdrawing from competitions and matches at late notice. Sadly this not only significantly disrupts the remaining teammates but also has the potential to detrimentally impact upon the physical, emotional and mental health of the individual pupil during this period. Remaining part of a team / crew / squad with whom one has invested significant time and effort is often the necessary interlude which helps generates a refreshed perspective and appetite for further learning during the revision period.

Numerous scientific studies have explored this issue and have proven the physiological benefits of regular exercise to keep the mind refreshed and break up the monotony of revision. This can be complemented by other activities such as breathing techniques, mindfulness and meditation, all of which can help offset stress and panic which can build in the lead up to exams.  See some of the articles below for useful tips on coping with stress during exams: 

A growing area of interest for researchers in this field has been exploring the emotional importance of remaining involved with peer groups and teammates during the exam season. The shared experiences and empathy from friends within a team who are undergoing the same kind of stresses creates a degree of calmness and reassurance which helps to alleviate tension at a key time in an adolescent’s life. Moreover, the value of a shared commitment as part of a team competing in a fixture, tournament, regatta, etc. generates greater balance and meaning to young people’s lives. Exam success is undoubtedly an important aspect of school life which greatly influences future opportunities but the pursuit of such success should not be to the detriment of one’s emotional and mental health, nor should it be seen as the only indicator of success and progress.

It is also important to retain perspective, especially for the younger age groups, where end of year exams are simply an indicator of progress – not a judgement on one’s future academic success. Participating in school fixtures and events is normal for all teenagers and should not be seen as something to give up to singularly focus on exams and tests. As with most things in life, there isn’t anything wrong with a bit of balance.


  1. A first-class article with impressive supporting evidence, this should be compulsory reading for all pupils and parents.

  2. Thank you for taking the time to comment. We're delighted that you found the article useful.