Exam Stress and it's Management

In India, exam season create an environment of deep stress involving students, parents, teachers and coaching classes. While parents concerned about their societal status, schools and coaching classes create unnecessary environment of competition and comparison. Exam anxiety may cause some students to work harder and be more motivated, but it may also have debilitating effects on other students, such as making them unable to concentrate or causing them to put things off, which can result in low grades or even dropout rates. Let us start with understanding what anxiety is and how it is related to examinations. Fundamentally, anxiety is the body's usual reaction to something that has to be attended to in the surroundings. The body goes through a process known as the "fight-or-flight response," in which it gets ready to either face the threat or run away from it. Although a small degree of worry can help to foster drive and responsibility, excessive anxiety can cause mental and physical health issues as well as make it difficult for a person to operate in a variety of social and academic contexts.

Here are few research findings explaining the reasons and impact of exam anxiety. According to Cheraghian et al. (2008), test takers may feel anxious because they believe their performances are being closely watched and assessed. Moadeli and Ghazanfari (2005) state that low confidence or subpar academic achievement may be the outcome of this distressing emotion brought on by test anxiety. In addition to worrying about social evaluation, test- anxious people may also worry about being negatively judged by others, including parents and teachers (Lowe et al., 2008). Research also indicates that female students are more likely than male students to experience anxiety, and older students often experience higher levels of stress (Ginter et al., 1982). Several studies have indicated that students' exam anxiety may stem from a lack of preparation. There is a theory that suggests that the fear of falling short of expectations, whether they are set by one or by others, can set off a vicious cycle of anxiety that lowers motivation and increases negative self-talk. Wine's 1980 study found that people who are test-anxious have a tendency to use their attentional resources inefficiently by worrying and criticizing themselves, which makes it harder for them to concentrate on the 0.1sjob at hand. All these suggest that both social and psychological factors contribute in causation of exam anxiety. Now let's learn to manage exam anxiety.

The goal of test anxiety management techniques is to lessen the strain brought on by exam-related anxiety and is not to completely eliminate anxiety because most students can benefit from a moderate level of discomfort. A few strategies are mentioned here:

  • Self awareness and acceptance among the student and their family, regarding the issue of exam phobia/test anxiety is the foremost thing. This will pave the way and open the door for resolving the issue, as without awareness and acceptance change is not possible.
  • Parents and near one should be watchful about their own anxiety which, if unaddressed, can lead to increase in fear among the students. They should avoid undue advices, nagging and allow child to prepare as per his preferences. They should not bring complete change in their routine work as this can increase performance pressure among children. They should ask student whether he/she requires any help and should do accordingly.
  • Dare to be average: Looking at the current scenario one of the major factors contributing to exam fear is apprehension of not been among the top creamy layer. This undue harshness on oneself should be lowered by understanding that exam score does not completely define any student.
  • Exam is only one part of life. This basic understanding needs to be cultivated in the society as a whole. It is not the end of life if you score low or fail in any exams.
  • Sabse Bada Rog Kyaa Kahenge Log: The fear of been judged by family members, teachers or society needs to be addressed collaboratively. The need to impress others by scoring well should be corrected. The primary purpose of education is to acquire knowledge, stay happy and learn basic life skills. Education is not the only source of earning or employment should be understood.
  • A fearful student should neither avoid nor should try very hard to study. Both these behaviors in fact increase the fear. As you try more and more the situation slips out of your control and fear increases.
  • Be mindful. Don't focus on getting rid of the anxiety because that will only feed the anxiety. Be with your anxiety-be and observer of your physical symptoms and continue with your work.
  • Don't create your own emotional web. During anxious phase it's very common to have fearful thoughts and apprehensive questions. Commonest mistake is trying to find answer and to feel reassured. This leads to rumination and increase anxiety, at the end of which you feel helpless, more anxious and frustrated. So just allow those thoughts to come and go and you carry on with your activities.
  • Regular exercise, sleep and eating schedule will definitely help all students who are appearing for exams. This can vary from student to student.
  • Preparing for exams well in advance and take regular breaks for your hobbies. Make small and achievable targets and work consistently on them rather than taking a huge step at once and then failing to maintain it. Learning specific remembering techniques from experts and seniors do help.
  • Lastly one should not hesitate to seek professional help to deal with the situation. In case of chronic case an expert should be consulted at least 3-4 months prior to exams.

In conclusion, test anxiety is comparable to an unforeseen pop quiz, taking us by surprise. However, equipped with straightforward strategies and a modest understanding, we have the ability to transform these anxious sentiments into assured success.

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