Coping with the Stress of Year 12’s Final Semester with Strategies for Success

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The final year of high school, Year 12, is a crucial period in a student’s academic journey. It’s a time filled with academic pressures, applications for further study for some, and the looming sense of transition into adulthood. Coping with the stress of the year 12’s final semester is essential for both academic success and overall well-being. As psychologists and counsellors, we often encounter young people who present with high anxiety in relation to their final semester at high school. As a parent / caregiver, witnessing your young person navigate the stress of Year 12’s final semester can also be a challenging experience. Your support and guidance play a crucial role in helping your young person to succeed during this pivotal time in their academic journey. In this blog entry, we’ll explore ways students can cope at this time, and how parents / caregivers can effectively support and encourage their young person while also managing their own stress.


For Students

Time Management and Organization / Study Techniques

One of the first steps in dealing with Year 12 stress is effective time management. Create a study schedule that allows you to allocate sufficient time for each subject, breaks, and relaxation. Use tools like calendars and task lists to keep yourself organized and on track. Experiment with different study techniques to find what works best for you. This might include creating study guides, flashcards, whilst participating in study groups can also help. Don’t forget to take regular, longer breaks to prevent burnout. The Pomodoro technique ( can help to focus time and attention, whilst scheduling breaks to maintain your commitment to the task.


Set Realistic Goals

While high expectations can be motivating, setting overly ambitious goals can lead to unnecessary stress. Establish realistic academic and personal goals that are achievable within your capacity. Using SMART goal setting techniques can help to break overall goals down into smaller, manageable tasks to avoid feeling overwhelmed.


Seek Support

Don’t hesitate to seek help from teachers, tutors, or classmates if you’re struggling with coursework. Communication is key, and educators are usually more than willing to offer guidance and support. Additionally, confiding in friends and family about your stress can provide emotional relief.


Practice Self-Care

Your mental and physical well-being should be a top priority. Make time for self-care activities such as exercise, meditation, hobbies, and spending time with friends and loved ones. Getting enough sleep and eating a balanced diet are essential for maintaining your energy and focus.


Mindfulness and Stress Reduction

Mindfulness techniques, such as deep breathing and meditation, can help manage stress and anxiety. Incorporate these practices into your daily routine to stay grounded and calm, especially during exam periods.


Manage Exam Anxiety

It’s normal to feel anxious before exams, but excessive anxiety can hinder your performance. Practice relaxation techniques, visualize success, and use positive self-talk to boost your confidence. Grounding techniques ( can be helpful to manage your anxiety.


Stay Informed About Uni / TAFE Applications

If further education applications are part of your Year 12 journey, stay informed about deadlines, requirements, and other financial assistance opportunities. Start the application process early to avoid last-minute stress.


Celebrate Achievements

Acknowledge and celebrate your accomplishments, no matter how small they may seem. Positive reinforcement can boost your motivation and reduce stress.


Keep Perspective

Remember that Year 12 is just one phase of your life. While it’s important, it doesn’t define your entire future or who you are as a person. Keep perspective on your long-term goals and aspirations and be kind to yourself along the way.


For Parents / Caregivers / Carers


As a parent / caregiver, witnessing your young person navigate the stress of Year 12’s final semester can be a challenging experience. Your support and guidance play a crucial role in helping them to succeed during this pivotal time in their academic journey. Read on for ways you can effectively support and encourage your young person while also managing your own stress.


Open and Non-Judgmental Communication

Create an open and non-judgmental environment where your young person feels comfortable discussing their concerns, fears, and achievements. Listen actively to their thoughts and feelings and avoid imposing undue pressure.


Understand Their Needs

Recognise that each person in your care is unique. Understand your young person’s learning style, strengths, and challenges. This knowledge can help you provide tailored support.


Set Realistic Expectations

While you want the best for your young person, it’s essential to hold realistic expectations. Encourage them to do their best without placing undue pressure to achieve perfection.


Provide a Structured Environment

Help your young person establish a structured daily routine that includes study time, breaks, and relaxation. Ensure they have a quiet and comfortable place to study.


Offer Emotional Support

Year 12’s final semester can be emotionally taxing. Be a source of emotional support, offering encouragement, understanding, and reassurance. Let them know that you believe in their abilities and recognise their efforts.


Encourage Self-Care

Emphasize the importance of self-care. Encourage your young person to maintain a healthy diet, get enough sleep, and engage in physical activities or hobbies they enjoy.


Help with Time Management

Teach your young person time management skills. Assist them in creating a study schedule, setting achievable goals, and prioritising tasks if they are happy to accept your help.


Celebrate Achievements

Celebrate your young person’s achievements, both big and small. Positive reinforcement can boost their confidence and motivation.


Connect with Educators

Maintain open lines of communication with your young person’s teachers and other school supports. Stay informed about their academic progress and address any concerns promptly.


Manage Your Own Stress

Managing your own stress is essential. Take time to relax, practice self-care, and seek support from friends, family, or professionals if needed. Your own well-being is crucial in providing effective support to your young person.


Be Flexible

Understand that there may be setbacks or challenging moments. Be flexible and adapt your approach as needed. Sometimes, a temporary change in study strategies or routines can make a big difference.


Discuss Future Plans

Have open discussions about your young person’s post-Year 12 plans. This can include university / TAFE applications, career aspirations, and any additional support they may need.


Supporting your young person through the stress of Year 12’s final semester requires patience, empathy, and effective communication. By offering encouragement, creating a supportive environment, and ensuring their well-being, you can help them to navigate this challenging phase with greater ease. Remember that your unwavering support can make a significant difference in their academic success and overall well-being.


Here are three popular book references that discuss coping with supporting a young person through high school:


  1. “The Gift of Failure: How the Best Parents Learn to Let Go So Their Children Can Succeed” by Jessica Lahey

This book explores the importance of allowing young people to experience failure and learn from their mistakes. It provides insights into how parents / caregivers can support their young person’s growth and development by not putting excessive pressure on them, which is especially relevant during the stressful Year 12 period.


  1. “Mindset: The New Psychology of Success” by Carol S. Dweck

This book delves into the concept of fixed and growth mindsets and how they influence learning and achievement. It offers valuable guidance on how parents / caregivers can foster a growth mindset in their young person, helping them approach challenges, including Year 12 stress, with resilience and a positive attitude.


  1. Mindfulness for Teen Anxiety: A Workbook for Overcoming Anxiety at Home, at School, and Everywhere Else” by Christopher Willard

This workbook is tailored specifically for adolescents and offers practical mindfulness-based strategies for managing anxiety and stress.


NB: Remember that your young person is so much more than their final ATAR score and support them to understand / believe this too.



Our Blog Author

This blog was written by Ian Clark – Clinical Psychologist at YMM.

Ian is a Clinical Psychologist with over 10 years experience in private practice. He enjoys working with adolescents and adults presenting with a range of difficulties, including mood disorders, anxiety, and stress related to school or work. Ian believes it is essential to the therapeutic process to provide a welcoming, safe, and non-judgemental environment in which to carefully explore ways to help people to make positive changes in their lives.

To learn more about Ian, check out the “Our Team” page on our website!