Asking for a Friend: Help! I'm freaking out about my maths exam

  • This week we discuss handling school stress and how to be secure in your body when you feel self-conscious
  • If you have difficult, embarrassing or awkward questions to ask about teen life, send them in anonymously, and ‘Friend of a Friend’ will do their best to help
Amalissa Hall |

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Are you panicking about your exams? Start off by taking a deep breath.

Hi Friend,

As my internal assessments are coming out, I’ve started to panic about my studies. I have been doing a lot of past paper questions on maths but my grades have never improved. I have tried many other ways, including doing more past paper questions and more reviews, but it still does not work! Any advice?

Thanks, Maths Problem 

Hi Maths Problem,

Exam season is upon us, and there are a lot of emotions that come with it, including panic. 

First of all, take a deep breath. Panic will not help you! Obviously it is easier said than done, but try to focus on what you can do right now, instead of worrying about what is to come. Thinking too far ahead can be overwhelming and concentrating on immediate tasks will give you direction. 

You have taken the practical approach to your studies, which is the logical thing to do, but unfortunately it doesn’t sound like it’s working, so you need to try something else. You need to find the root (hah) of the issue. Start by asking your teacher where you are going wrong, and ask them for advice – they will know better than me! 

More importantly, take your teachers’ advice and apply it. If you’re still having trouble, keep asking questions. Past papers and reviews will not be much help if don’t understanding the fundamentals of what you’re studying. 

What to do when thinking about the future stresses you out

Speak to your peers who are getting the grades you want and ask them how they’re doing it. Maybe they’ll be able to explain the problems you’re having in a more understandable way. Ask about study tips, too; they could be doing something different that will trigger a new way of learning. 

Know that making mistakes is a good way to learn. Are you looking over the errors you made in your past papers? Study those and learn what you shouldn’t be doing. Compare previous papers and see at what point you’re not doing the right thing, then go back to your textbooks and reviews and practise those problems.

It can be difficult to face your mistakes, and sometimes, you’ll just want to ignore the whole thing if you’ve not done a good job. But accepting that it’s already done and trying to overcome your errors head on is what will help you improve. 

Young Post has just interviewed a maths tutor to ask for some exam tips for our readers. Take a look at what he said!

Good luck, Friend of a Friend

Will I fail the DSE cause I didn't speak English growing up?

Hi Friend,

I have a really big scar on my back from a surgery. I’ve always been self-conscious about it and wore things that would cover it up. My good friends know about it, but I try to hide it from other people. Now that I’m almost 16, I want to dress cute, but I feel like all the options that are trendy are too revealing. I want to be able to wear strappy tops, but I’m so embarrassed by my scar. What should I do?

Thanks, Scarred and Scared

Hi Scarred,

I’m sorry that you feel that way about your scar, but I can say that everyone has something they feel self-conscious about.

Even people who feel confident about themselves have something they’re not 100 per cent happy about. 

Learning to accept yourself takes time, and it’s totally normal at your age to be going through this, so be gentle with yourself. Don’t start wearing strappy things for the sole reason for being trendy, especially since you’re not comfortable yet. But you should try to stop hiding it so much because seeing your scar more often will desensitise you and others, so you’ll all get used to it.

How can I be successful when I failed my mock IB exams?

Try to reframe your perception of your scar – look at it as something positive that helped you when you were younger. It is proof that your body is working as it should. You can also see it as a conversation starter, as people are likely to ask about it, and you can have some fun and get creative with your stories about how you got it. It’s a good way to build confidence.

Now in terms of clothes, pick things that you are comfortable with. Go for baby tees instead of strappy tops if you don’t want to show off your back yet. Pick popular colours like lilac and green, or focus on fun trousers and skirts. If you don’t find any clothes you like, accessorise instead with tiny bags, butterfly earrings and hair clips. Being trendy does not necessarily mean you are stylish – you can look cute and be comfortable.

Hope you find something that works for you, Friend of a Friend

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