Expert’s top tips to deal with ATAR anxiety


AN ALARMING amount of senior students across the country suffer from anxiety over the Australian Tertiary Admission Rank (ATAR) but mental health experts insist there are ways to effectively combat the nerves.

A new study by Cluey Learning found 75 per cent of Australian senior students suffered from or will experience ATAR anxiety.

The study also revealed 88 per cent of students would be disappointed if they did not achieve their desired ATAR, while 81 per cent of students believed an ATAR under 60 would be detrimental.

Psychologist Jemma Rollo said students needed to remember anxiety was healthy and normal.

A new study has found 75 per cent of senior students across Australia suffer from ATAR anxiety
A new study has found 75 per cent of senior students across Australia suffer from ATAR anxiety

"Anxiety mainly becomes problematic when people fail to recognise and acknowledge it, and then try to avoid, rather than responding appropriately to it," she said.

Ms Rollo offered students four tips to combating anxiety.

Acknowledge and accept your anxiety

She said common signs included butterflies in the stomach, a "sick" feeling, sweaty hands, a racing heartbeat and shortness of breath.

Understand your anxiety

"Anxiety can tell you that you really care about something in the situation, and if you miss this information, you miss an opportunity to bring your behaviour into line with your values," Ms Rollo said.

Find positive ways to deal with anxiety

"Don't waste time and energy on attempts to avoid the unpleasant feelings of anxiety through distracting things like phones, TV, excessive room tidying or food control," she said.

"Choose behaviour that's in line with those values … if you're anxious because you care about getting into uni, a behaviour in line with that would be choosing subjects you enjoy or are good at."

Don't envy people who don't care

"Anxiety is usually only problematic when people use avoidance and distraction excessively, and therefore don't choose behaviours that keep them on track to achieve what they care about," Ms Rollo said.

Schools such as Casuarina Senior College have developed strategies to combat ATAR anxiety.

Casuarina Senior College assists students to develop a good study plan and recommends that students eat healthy, do some form of physical activity and get plenty of sleep around exam period," said principal Glenn Dixon.

"We also refer students to recommended websites and reading material which provides tips to keep calm during exams."