It is normal to feel a bit worried about exams, especially if you're under pressure from school or family. Exam stress can cause you to feel anxious or depressed, and this might affect your sleeping or eating habits.  

We want to reassure that it is perfectly normal to feel worried about exams and also to give you some simple tips on how you can help yourself to minimise that worry.

The next few days can be a very strange time for many young people. You may have achieved the grades you wanted but your friends or family didn't, or maybe you haven't achieved what you had hoped and your friends did.

It can be difficult to know how to feel, but please know that you are not alone and that your future does not only rest on what is written on your results slip. 

If you do feel worried or down there are simple things you can do to make yourself feel better:

1. Talk to people around you

You might feel like bottling up what you’re worried about, but if you’re honest with your friends and family, they might be able to help. Many adults remember the feelings around their own results day and will know how  you are feeling.

It can also be hard for those around you to know how to react unless you tell them what you’re hoping for. Don't bottle up your feelings and if you feel you can't speak to anyone in your immediate circle then CCEA have set up a dedicated results helpline which offers advice and guidance for students who are expecting their A-Level and GCSE results over the next fortnight.

Anyone with queries regarding CCEA’s examination results can call 028 9026 1260, email [email protected], or log onto the CCEA website to access answers from the Frequently Asked Questions section.

2. Plan how you will react if things go how you want or if they don't

Exams don’t always go to plan and you might not get the grades you need or wanted. Make sure you’ve researched what to do on results day and how UCAS Clearing works, but don’t dwell on the worst-case scenario.

Think of a way to celebrate with friends and family if you do get the results you need and remember that you matter and that you are about more than the results on a page.

You may feel disappointed with your results but please believe us that you won't feel this way forever. Decisions don't have to be made immediately. Take some time and you'll work out your next steps and what is right for you. 

3. Maintain a normal routine

Keep yourself as busy as possible to distract yourself from results day stress. If you have hobbies, keep up with them and try to stick with any plans you’ve made, such as holidays and spending time with friends. 

Exercise can help boost energy levels, clear the mind and relieve stress. It doesn't matter what it is – walking, cycling, swimming, football and dancing are all effective.

4. Keep it in perspective

  • Keep in mind that exam results do not define who you are. You might be the comedian in the family, the person your friends come to for life advice, or ten different things to many different people. You matter. Remember that. You are more than your exam results.
  • Remember your strengths. You have so many different skills and qualities. 
  • Make a list of all the things you want from life which don't involve exams. This can help you realise that exams are only a small part of the picture.  
  • Have fun! Remember your life outside of exams is important too. Make a list of all the things you enjoy, and find time to do them. This can reduce your stress levels, improve your mood, and help you feel refreshed and relaxed. There is no need to feel guilty for taking some you-time to unwind. You’re allowed to have a social life and interests outside of studying.
  • Never forget that your health and happiness is worth looking after.

5. Dealing with disappointing exam results

If you don’t get the grades you want, it can feel devastating. But, as we've said above (and we've said it twice because it is sooooo true) you won't feel this way forever. At this time thousands and thousands of people your age are in the same position, for all sorts of reasons.

Give yourself a break and trust in yourself. If you don't believe us, then go online and google how many well-known people didn't get the grades they originally wanted or check out this article.

Life doesn’t always go to plan, but stay calm, you are going to be okay. There are still loads of options available to you.

  • Don't panic, take a moment to breathe. 
  • Speak to people who will help you stay calm and who you can talk to about how you're feeling. 
  • Explore your options properly. Your education provider will be able to help you with this.
  • Remember you don't need to make any snap decisions in the heat of the moment. 

In Extern we have a number of services which could be of help to some of you if you are feeling very anxious:

Reach Out

Our Reach Out service offers a drop-in office from the Spectrum Centre, Shankill Road, Belfast if you are experiencing anxiety about your exams or have mental health issues. You can also call the numbers below

Tel: 07442 533165
Email: [email protected]

You can also ask to see your GP if:

  • you're struggling to cope with anxiety, fear or panic
  • things you're trying yourself are not helping

Ask for an urgent GP appointment or call 111 if:

  • you need help urgently, but it's not an emergency

111 can tell you the right place to get help if you need to see someone. Go to or call: 111.

Call 999 or go to A&E now if:

  • you or someone you know needs immediate help
  • you have seriously harmed yourself – for example, by taking a drug overdose

A mental health emergency should be taken as seriously as a medical emergency.