ATAR anxiety, and tips to get you through it

Can you believe Year 12 final exams are nearly here? With so much uncertainty surrounding the COVID chaos of 2020, it’s no wonder exam stress levels are rising – and it’s not just among students.

Cluey Learning Tuesday, 25 August 2020

Recent research shows that over 80 per cent of senior students have experienced ATAR anxiety this year. This is up from last year’s 75 per cent and there are no prizes for guessing why. 62 per cent of students believe their “ATAR score will be worse” thanks to COVID-19, but despite this most of them are still planning to sit their exams rather than receiving an ATAR based on an average of their school assessments.

80 per cent of students agree that seniors should get special consideration due to COVID-19. And almost half of them are considering—or are already using—additional learning resources or support such as online tutoring on top of the support their school is providing.

Students have another worry though—their parents. More than a third of students believe their parents’ ATAR anxiety is worse than their own.

When parents were asked whether this year’s events made them more or less stressed about their child’s ATAR score, almost 40 per cent said they were more stressed, with 43 per cent having experienced some anxiety over their child’s ATAR result.

Cluey Chief Learning Officer Dr Selina Samuels says, “it’s normal to feel pressure around important education milestones. The challenges of COVID-19 have no doubt contributed to these feelings. It’s important however, that students not waste time speculating about the possible impact of the pandemic on their final results, but rather focus on the ways to manage their stress and focus on what they can do to maximise their learning on a day to day basis.”

Here are some of Selina’s top tips for getting through ATAR time:


For students

• Don’t keep re-reading the same thing over and over. Find new ways to approach familiar content.

• A tutor can help to keep your study engaging and ensure no question goes unanswered.

• Don’t worry about your competition; focus on your own learning. Remember that every Year 12 student in the country is in the same boat.


For Parents

• Make sure to check in with your child about how they are feeling; don’t wrap them in cotton wool but do acknowledge that their feelings of stress are real.

• Remember that it’s not your ATAR: the key to managing your child’s stress is to manage your own.

• Check out our blog for research, insights and guidance on maintaining continuity of learning.

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