Some Australian students are reportedly shunning Year 12 exams in favour of more favourable, and less stressful, pathways to finishing school. These reports come amid warnings of rising rates of anxiety and depression among young people, with psychologists calling for better mental health support services in schools. Experts say exam stress could be making depression and anxiety worse for vulnerable young people.
Websites set up to support youth mental health use words such as “survive” when it comes to Year 12. Others refer to exam time = stress time.
Exams are certainly challenging. But our rhetoric may be having an impact on the way young people perceive exams. In our efforts to support young people, we may be teaching them to be afraid rather than encouraging them to see exams as a positive challenge.