Staff in teacher jobs who educate their pupils in dealing with stress could play a major role in helping them pass their exams, judging from a new report.
Researchers from Edge Hill University, the University of South Australia and the AQA exam board surveyed 325 pupils from the north-west of England between three and four months before they sat their GCSEs.
The teenage respondents were asked to agree or disagree with 44 statements relating to exam worries, their levels of confident in dealing with their concerns and strategies for coping with anxiety.
Pupils were asked if they agreed with statements like "I am anxious while taking exams", "if I fail an exam I am afraid I will be rated stupid by my friends" and "during exams I find myself thinking about the consequences of failing".
The researchers' findings, which are this week being presented to the British Educational Research Association, suggest a link between worry and poor exam performance.
Even when prior attainment levels were taken into account, lower worry and greater task-focused coping tended to be predictive of attaining better grades in GCSEs.
Those pupils who sought to distract themselves and avoid thinking about exams tended to fare worse, for example, while those who focused on exam performance were more likely to do better.
According to the researchers, the difference between a pupil who never worries and one who always does could be the distinction between getting an A* and receiving a B.
Dr Dave Putwain from Edge Hill University told BBC News: "There is no doubt that test anxiety, or to be more precise a high degree of worry over one's performance or the consequences of one's performance, has a detrimental effect on GCSE performance."
This comes after several studies published this summer raised concerns over young adolescents' mental health more generally, with a survey of over 2,000 young adults by MindFull showing one in five had exhibited signs of depression before they turned 16.
Moreover, the Children's Society's 'Good Childhood Report 2013' revealed dissatisfaction tends to increase among children as they enter their teenage years and they become increasingly worried about the future, school and the choices they have.
Posted by Harriet McGowan