How exam season pressures impact teachers and students 

School exams can be a challenging period for everyone. 

By the time exams roll around, teachers have done all they can to prepare their students – but that doesn’t mean the pressure’s off. From running the exams to making sure stressed-out students know where and when to be, teachers’ workloads become heavier than ever.  

Whether it’s SATs, GCSEs or A Levels, students often feel especially anxious around exam time. While each student is responsible for their own revision and preparedness, factors like worrying whether they’ve got the right day and time for an exam can also impact anxiety levels.  

Exam officers using their school MIS to help oversee GCSEs

The on-the-day struggles of school exams 

Students aren’t the only ones who dread exam days – for time-strapped teaching and administrative staff, there’s a lot to juggle. 

Exam officers who are overseeing SATS, GCSEs or A Level exams have plenty of challenges to face on the day, including: 

  • Organising seating plans and ensuring masses of students are in the right location 
  • Monitoring the running of exams throughout the day and ensuring all the rules are being followed 
  • Arranging the environments and resources needed by students with access needs 

From on-the-fly timetabling to troubleshooting unforeseen issues, exam officers face significant stressors – especially when they don’t have the right tools to keep stress to a minimum for students and staff. 

navigating the stormy waters of school exam season with EdTech guide image thumbnail

Featured Guide

Keeping exam season stress to a minimum: solutions for schools and trusts 

Exam season can be a tough time for students and staff, but schools and trusts can still take action to keep stress to a minimum and help everything run smoothly. 

Read our free guide to improving examination administration, with insights like: 

  • Strategies to reduce on-the-day exam pressures 
  • Reducing staff workload around school exams 
  • Reducing anxiety by improving communication 
  • Software-based strategies to reduce exam time stress 

How can teachers and trust leadership monitor student wellbeing during exam season? 

Maintaining student wellbeing during exam season can be tough. 

Teachers can spot changes in individual students in their class, but what about the bigger picture? How can school and trust leadership get a clear look at how pupils are faring across different classes, year-groups, and schools and academies? 

With the right MIS, schools and trusts can collate and analyse data like attendance and behaviour to monitor how students are coping on a wider scale. 

Using this data, leadership can make better decisions that can positively impact students and staff during exam times, such as bringing in an education psychologist to support pupils. 

school teachers using an MIS to help remain stress-free during school exams

How can schools and trusts reduce stress around exam time? 

Schools are busy environments at the best of times. But during school exams when students are worrying about revision and staff are thinking about pupil wellbeing and school performance tables, the pressure intensifies.  

Here are some of the ways schools and trusts can help keep stress and disruption to a minimum during exam time. 

  • Use unified data

    Having access to combined data saves school staff time and reduces their workload. They don’t need to log into multiple systems to get student information, leading to more informed decisions and better student outcomes, such as improved GCSE results for schools. 

    In addition to this, schools and trusts can use student data to inform their wellbeing strategies, particularly around exam season. For example, leadership might notice a trend of increased absence in students from a particular background and take action accordingly.  

    This insight can be used to guide decision-making and strategy, spotlighting which students may need additional support – especially around school exams. 

  • Clearly communicate with your students

    Overwhelming your students with information from different sources can increase stress levels. 

    You can still stay in touch with students (as well as parents and carers) using alternative communication methods, such as a parent engagement platform. 

    It is far quicker to communicate with parents and carers if your engagement app syncs with your MIS. This means teachers and administrators don’t need to worry about finding and manually inputting contact info; the app can just pre-populate the parent or carer’s information. 

    Also, by regulating communications through the system, teachers are shielded from a personal barrage of emails from largely well-meaning parents.  

  • Streamline support for students with access needs

    The number of students who have exam access arrangements has increased by 14% in recent years. This might involve a student needing their own room to complete their exam if they’re having the paper dictated to them, or they have a scribe.  

    While it’s critical students have access to necessary accessibility measures, teachers and exam officers also need the right tools to facilitate this. Schools and trusts can use their School Management Information System to timetable exams and ensure students with access arrangements are facilitated for.   

    Plus, parental engagement apps can be used to share this information with the relevant pupils, parents and carers. 

  • Use a centralised resource hub

    Giving your students a central resource hub to find information relating to exams can help reduce their stress levels. 

    Schools and trusts can use student apps and parental engagement apps to share resources like: 

    • Details on when and where exams are taking place (especially if last-minute changes are made) 
    • Links to reading materials and helpful study tips  
    • Sample revision timetables to help students and parents/carers stay organised 
  • Engage parents and carers

    Maintaining communication with parents and carers is crucial during exam season. With a suitable engagement app that’s integrated with a MIS, schools and trusts can: 

    • Provide exam timetables, including information like dates, times and locations  
    • Update families on planned room changes or timetable adjustments 
    • Advise parents and carers on how to support at-home exam preparation, such as revision tips 
    • Share condensed versions of the syllabus, with topics, headline resources and revision guidance
    • Details of forthcoming Q&A or support sessions for carers and students 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Are you a school or trust exploring ways to support staff and students during school exams? Learn more about reducing stress and improving school results by reading our frequently asked questions.  

By the time exams come around, teachers will have already done all they can to prepare their students to perform to the best of their academic abilities.  

However, schools and trusts can use technology to minimise stress during exam season and ensure students and staff are fully prepared for assessment. That way, pupils have the best chance of doing well, and schools can climb up the performance tables. 

A good management information system (MIS), for example, can help with: 

  • Creating and amending seating plans if there are last-minute changes (e.g. a student does not sit the exam as planned) 
  • Devising electronic registers for exam invigilators to ensure students are properly registered and exams are not disrupted 
  • Scheduling and selecting examination spaces 
  • Providing staff with a clear view of any access arrangements required 

There are several systems (or types of software) that can be used to help schools and trusts carry out exams; this technology is sometimes referred to as “exam software”. 

When primary school pupils in Year 6 take their SATs, it’s typically their first formal examination. This can mean that both pupils and parents/carers are unaware of what to expect. 

To ease any anxiety, schools and trusts can use their MIS and parental engagement software to maintain communication during exams and share essential information. For example, if there’s a last-minute change to the time of an exam, parents and carers can be easily notified and can help ensure their children are prepared. 

During the pandemic, students faced many challenges that affected GCSE, A-Level and SATs results for schools. 

Because of teacher-assessed grades, exam results went up during the pandemic. Since the switch back to traditional examination methods, results have started to dip. 

The challenges posed by the pandemic and cost-of-living crises are expected to further influence outcomes, particularly for students from disadvantaged backgrounds.  

Educators are exploring ways to improve student outcomes and boost their position on the school performance tables. Technology can be a useful tool in achieving these goals. 

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