The first thing that comes to my mind when I think of the topic that I am going to be writing on today, is a line that was the favorite line used by one of my teachers when I was pursuing my Graduation- Hurry, Worry and Spicy curry, cause Stress…
So what really is this devil called ‘Exam Stress’. Is it stress that one experiences anticipating the exam, anticipating the outcome, anticipating the question paper, anticipating the event of appearing for the exam in a foreign environment (fear of the unknown) or is it the fear of being judged or not being able to live up to everyone’s expectations or something that transcends all of these feelings and is much bigger than the exam itself!! Essentially, anticipation and uncertainty seem to cause most of these fears, instead of the real event.
Stress, by definition, is our body’s response to events or conditions that we cannot control, or those that are perceived as threats. Not all Stress is bad as ‘Eustress’, or good stress is what gets us going while we are running to win a race, or competing in a quiz etc., whereas ‘Distress’, or negative stress is something that creates havoc in our body and mind.
Some feelings that have been reported by some of the students that I have interacted with over the last several years are:
I should have studied more…I’ll never get through.
Oh Gosh! I am having nightmares about missing the exam, forgetting my pencil box, falling from a cliff
My mind has gone blank… I can’t remember a thing…this always happens to me…I never do well on anything. All my friends will mock me if I get left behind!!
My hands are shaking again, stomach is churning, what if I am unable to finish the exam in time!
What if I don’t do well enough to get into a good College! What will my parents Say!
Most of the reactions listed above, can be categorized into Self Doubt, Anxiety about Performance, Bodily Reactions to Distress, Worrying about how others are doing, Fear of being judged by Others, Fear of Negative Outcomes.
The fear in most cases is about the outcome, uncertainty, self-doubt and rarely is it about preparation.
Are we as parents, passing on our anxieties, the weight of our aspirations and expectations on to our kids! In times when several people are re-starting their careers at the age of 40/ 50, in an age where new professions and jobs are created each day, where regular jobs are becoming redundant, how can performance by a 15/16 year old in an exam that is based on archaic evaluation systems, overpower/ haunt the creativity and steal the glitter of excitement about a bright future, away from gleaming excited eyes of our youth!
Before they start feeling any of the emotions mentioned above, the question that the parents need to help the children ask themselves is “Will marks take away my dreams and talent!” Yes, marks may be important for some professions that they chose, but they solely do not solely chart the course of your life. There are alternate paths available for reaching ALL goals. Life does not end if a certain score is not obtained! An individual’s opportunities, success and most importantly goals are not measured solely based on the marks that they secure in the Board exams. There will be several opportunities that will come their way. Meanwhile, the internet is flooded with tips on exam preparation, therefore, plan your studies systematically, manage your time well and most importantly believe in yourself! Everything else will fall into place.