Examining student pressures

With A-level and GCSE results out in recent weeks, the culmination of years of hard work came to a head for hundreds of thousands of students. Thus it is timely to examine how large exams and schoolwork loom amongst the pre-occupations of today’s youth and how advertisers can identify with such pressures in engaging with young people.

Data from our Youth TGI study into the behaviour, attitudes and media consumption of children and teenagers, reveals that as children get older worries about exams and schoolwork become far more prominent.

The older the child, the higher exams and school work rank on the list of worries

From a list of nearly 20 common modern concerns, amongst 7-10 year olds school work and exams sits 10th, with 32% of those in this age bracket claiming to be very worried about these – a higher proportion than are very worried about drug taking and global warming, but a lower proportion than are worried about animal cruelty, the dangers of smoking and bullying.

However, if we move up an age range to the 11-14 year olds, from a list of nearly 30 common concerns, school work and exams features fifth in the hierarchy of concerns, with 40% of those in this age range very worried about it, beaten only by child cruelty, drug taking, terrorism and the dangers of smoking.

To go up by yet another age range that encompasses those undertaking GCSEs and A-levels – the 15-19 year olds – school work and exams creeps higher on the list of worries, into third place, with 38% very worried, behind only cruelty to children (44%) and terrorism (40%).

The proportion of those very worried about exams and school work has fallen in recent years

However, to provide an element of perspective, it is important to note that the overall proportion of 15-19 year olds very worried about school work and exams has fallen significantly in recent years, from 50% in 2012 to 46% in 2016 and then down to today’s 38%. Indeed, five years ago exams and school work ranked second in the list of biggest worries for 15-19 year olds (behind only cruelty to children).

A desire to be noticed is amongst the key differentiating attitudes for 15-19 year olds with school work and exam worries. They are 24% more likely than the average person in this age range to say that they enjoy experimenting with make-up to change their appearance and 23% more likely to say they like to look glamorous.

They are also 21% more likely to claim to be easily influenced by other people, presenting an opportunity for word-of mouth targeting. When it comes to word of mouth, they are particularly likely to have talked to lots of different people about beauty & cosmetics (40% more likely) and clothes & fashion (37% more likely).

Those worried are especially likely to be heavy consumers of outdoor media

When it comes to media, they are a quarter more likely than the average 15-19 year old to be amongst the top fifth of consumers of outdoor media. Digging down further into what kind of outdoor media they are especially exposed to, Youth TGI reveals that these school work and exam worriers are 21% more likely to be travelling to school, college or work regularly by train.

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