Post Exam Slump: Relight The Fire

Have you just finished some major exams and now find yourself in a bit of a slump? Don’t be too worried, this is a very normal phenomenon. My daughter hit an all-time low, this is how we managed to lift her back up.

Firstly you need to start thinking about yourself for a while. I bet all you’ve done for weeks is look at books with no ‘me’ time. This is how we got our daughter back on track.

  • Pre Exams
  • Take some time out
  • Focus on the positives
  • Get back in the game
  • Look at the big picture

Our daughter thought she would never get through her exams. She worked her socks off, but after her pre-exams, she started doubting herself. Everyone needs downtime, but don’t waste all that effort by not getting to the final hurdle. Power on through, the end is in sight. This is the technique we used to get her past the finish line.


Both of my children were sitting important exams. We have recently completed the pre-exam cycle. I say we because no matter how organized your child can be, the whole household will be living and breathing the exams.

There’s such a build-up to the pre-exams, the pressure is immense; from the school, the teachers, and the students themselves. The teachers are telling them they are more than likely going to fail, this negative process is not helpful to anyone in my opinion.

At least give them a fighting chance and be somewhat optimistic. The pressure also comes from within their peer group. There is such a demand for high scores that competitiveness is so strong amongst students, it heightens the pressure further.

Taking SAT first time senior year, is another one of my posts that you may be interested in.

And if your child is driven to succeed the largest amount of pressure comes from within themselves.

Take time out

It’s important to have some downtime after exams. Chances are you haven’t done anything fun for ages, so it’s time to reward all that hard work. Go out with friends, do some sports, anything but study.

However, as a parent, I found this quite difficult. I knew that they definitely needed a break but for how long? How long should you let them recover before you suggest they should be doing a ‘bit’. A week? Two weeks? My daughter is very much a self-starter but I found that it took a good 3-4 weeks for her to get herself motivated again.

I was watching all this time ticking by that she could have been studying but I had to hold my tongue for fear of pushing her over the edge. Talk about walking on eggshells! This is also what I mean about the whole household doing exams. The atmosphere can change in the blink of a result! But at the end of the day, you cannot force your child to study.

If they are studying for finals well then they have to be mature enough to know how important they are. Every child is different. You will know what is best for your child, and a gentle nudge may be what is needed if the routine is not fully back in place after a few weeks.

Focus on the positive

We have to always try and be positive. It’s hard to stay upbeat all the time and no one is suggesting that you can. But if we try and find a positive in each class test or assignment then this will contribute to the end exams.

If you have a favorite subject, well then more often than not you are going to do well in that subject. So, we have to ask ourselves why are we doing well. And how can we transfer that to other subjects?

We do well in a subject we like because we find it interesting. We then see the workload easier because it’s interesting. So, not everyone likes every subject, that goes without saying, but there must be some aspects of each subject that you find interesting.

If there are, try and transfer the way you approach a favorite subject to one that you like a little less. When you sit down to study, choose the one you like least to start with and the one you like the most, the one you finish with. This should improve your mood when you are studying as you will realize that the subject you least like is over and done with and you can then enjoy the rest of your study time with your favorite subjects.

You may also like to read, how to write a study plan that actually works. It touches on planning, priorities, and making the workload more manageable.

Try not to spend hours and hours pouring over the same subject choice. 40 minutes is the optimum time, after that the brain needs a break, and you need to switch to a different topic. The more you enjoy a topic the easier it is to study it, so even the ones you find challenging or boring, try and find an interesting way to learn. Maybe if you are an aural learner, try a different approach for a topic you don’t like, such as visual, or physical. Trying new ways of learning might just make the challenge a little easier.

Get back in the game

So your pre-exams are over and the next challenge is your finals. It feels like all your energy has been spent.

How can you go on? You worked so hard for your pre’s and your results may or may not have been what you were expecting but now you realize that you have to go at it again.
Results play a large part in the motivation of a student. Really good marks are sometimes as negative as poor results. If they are too good the foot possibly comes off the throttle, the thinking being, I’ve done enough to get me through finals, which is never the case.

And poor results can sometimes lead to throwing in the towel, I’ll never achieve enough between now and finals. Of course, there is some truth in both depending on their mindset. The best possible option is to continue on a positive course.

The overall picture

There is still always time to improve a grade. But time is of the essence. The more downtime, the less study time. Try to get back into your routine as soon as you can. Study plans are very important and incredibly motivational. Having a structure to work towards is the key to success. To be able to mark items off as completed gives a huge sense of satisfaction and accomplishment.

How to make it through high school finals, is another one of my posts you may be interested in reading.

The end is near and the workload is almost complete. So the message is: lift yourself out of the post (pre) exam slump. The last final push will definitely be worth the effort.

Tara Cunningham

Tara Cunningham is a Mum and Graphic Designer. My children's education has always been very important to me. I feel that if you are willing to put in the time they will appreciate the effort. I hope that you find our thoughts and ideas useful and interesting.

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