In my job I have had the pleasure of working with numerous young people over the years prepare to sit their HSC exams. As the 2020 HSC exams approach for another year, I have found myself again discussing these ‘big exams’. It is not uncommon for these conversations to assist the young person in addressing their expectations and reducing the pressure they put on themselves. For many, HSC exams are approached with a fear of failure- that they will achieve significantly worst results than any other exam period in the past. The exams are perceived as significantly different from past exams. They are seen as like ‘nothing before’.
In my job I also have the pleasure of working with young people as they transition into their university studies. What often follows students as they progress into tertiary education, is they expect university to work in the same way as school. In doing so, students tend to carry with them excessively high expectations and an avoidance of asking for help when it comes to assessment tasks. Often provisions such as extensions and requests for deferred exams are overlooked.
What this has made me reflect on, is that in some circumstances it is so easy for us to see a situation as ‘substantially different’, where as in other situations we can get caught into the trap of ‘overgeneralising’ (that is, taking a past situation and inferring that future situations are going to be the same).
If you are reading this and about to embark on your HSC exams, I wonder, are you getting caught into the trap of jumping to the conclusion that your HSC exams are going to be nothing like any other exam you have ever done before? What is the evidence that these exams will be any different?
If you are reading this and are a university student about to undertake your end of year exams, are you putting pressure on yourself in the same way that you did during school? Are you refraining from asking for help out of fear that you will be judged or your request denied?
Addressing these questions can be just one piece of the puzzle in addressing academic stress. Whether you are a school student, university student or Tafe student, it is never too late to learn how to more effectively manage stress. Psychologists are equipped with a wealth of strategies to assist young people with managing academic stress, along with tailoring these strategies to your own experience.
Michelle Dean (M Clin Psych, BA (Hons – First Class), brings her genuine care and compassion for people, along with her keen insight and analytical abilities to her work. Michelle is registered with Medicare and is also an approved practitioner in the NSW Workers Compensation System.
Through her various roles, she has developed a deep understanding of how these difficulties develop and impact on people in different life stages. Michelle has been able to assist her clients in developing skills to manage their anxiety and depression, along with enabling them to develop a healthy sense of self and greater self confidence. Michelle is a high calibre and compassionate professional and she is wonderful at being able to see the complexities of a clinical presentation and bring her therapeutic work down to a manageable and structured approach.