This is not uncommon. We all tend to worry about this from time to time. However, if the concern is so great that it is preventing them from thinking logically and tackling the task (be it an exam or an assignment) then some help needs to be given.
You can help them overcome their concerns about failing exams by:
- Planning study schedule and working together to get through the work.
- Working through past exam papers together will often help build confidence.
- Practise doing exams in the given time. You don’t have to do it all at once. But you might do one hour of a two hour paper and see how you went.
If they are worried about failing an assignment
- Encourage them not to leave it to the last minute. Help them plan the draft, the sections to be written and a timeline
- If they finish the draft with a few days spare offer to read through the draft to help improve it
- Encourage them to also re-read the draft after a few days with a view of making its sound better, fixing the grammar, etc. This will always improve the assignment
- Go with them to get advice from a lecturer or tutor. It is better have some specific questions to ask a lecturer/tutor rather than asking for non-specific help.
Some people do worry about getting bad grades and having to repeat
- Reassure them that a pass in a course is OK and we don’t have to get credits and distinctions all the time. It is really about just finishing this course.
- If your friend is worried about failing and it is likely to be due to a health problem or personal matter, there are options in tertiary institutions to help. If it is health related then there may be options to have additional time in the exam. If it is personal it might be necessary to talk to a course coordinator or education officer. They may be entitled to sit a supplementary or deferred assessment. It is important that all the options are explored early rather than after grades are finalised.