Stress during examination is a normal and expected reaction and is very common. It is ok to feel a bit worried about exams, especially if you're under pressure from school or family. Sometimes the pressure of exams may cause you stress, while a small amount of pressure can be useful to keep you focused during exam time and is known as positive stress, which can actually improve performance. However sometimes stress is excessive and is hard to handle, then it may negatively impact the studies, commonly known as examination stress.
If you're experiencing exam stress, it's important to remind yourself that this is just one of the milestones in your life rather than a make-or-break point, even though it might not feel like it at the time. It can be equally distressing for parents to see their children go through exam-related stress. Many parents fail to comprehend the levels of anxiety and depression facing the learners of today, and can help by providing support at home.
The COVID-19 pandemic has caused major disruptions to daily life and has had a major impact on the education system also. We saw a transition from routine face-to-face classroom learning in schools to online learning. This change was new to everyone, students, teachers as well as to parents. Initially it was difficult for everyone to understand how to teach or learn online. This kind of learning was very stressful to everyone.
The shift to online teaching raised important challenges for educational institutions for organizing examinations and ensuring the possibility for students to progress in their studies. Then there were always the apprehensions of technical failures etc. during the exam particularly when exams were held online. Even these days when examinations are being held off line (in physical mode) there are difficulties faced by the students. But all these experiences in the last few one and half years, made us learn how to cope with these innovations and hence have provided us an opportunity to enhance our skills. Some of the students with risk factors may develop stress related issues. Following are few factors which can predispose a patient to stress related issues but human beings have the ability to cope up with these changes and hence can face them successfully.
Why do you experience exam stress?
Because you are worried about how well you will do in the exam.
Because you find it hard to understand what you’re studying.
Because you feel a lack of preparation.
Because you feel difficulty in recalling.
Because you are worried about the grades.
Because you feel pressure from your family to succeed.
Because you may have some other stressor.
Because you are worried about the competition with your peers.
Because starting too late and cramming too much information before an exam is a common cause of anxiety.
How does it feel?
If you feel losing touch with friends.
If you lose interest in activities, you enjoyed earlier.
If you experience mood swings or feel low.
If you have trouble making decisions.
If you have a loss of appetite or eat excessively.
If you have a disturbance in sleep or struggle to get out of bed.
If you lack motivation for studying.
If you have tense muscles or headache.
If you have clammy hands or feel butterflies in your stomach.
If you have a racing heartbeat.
If you experience fidgeting, nail biting or teeth grinding.
If you feel confused, or your mind goes blank before the exams.
How to relieve stress before an Exam?
Exercise which is known to relieve stress, makes you fit mentally as well as physically. 10-15 minutes of walk at least two times a day within your premises or house may help rather than going for strenuous exercise.
Ø Get enough sleep
It is very important to keep your sleep cycle intact before exams. Try to go to sleep and get up at the same time every day. Keep your electronic devices out of your bedroom. Average sleep duration should be 7-8 hours.
Ø Balanced diet
Have a balanced diet; take plenty of fruits and fluids. Eat a high-protein breakfast. Include eggs, peanut butter, oats or nuts. Avoid excessive sugar intake.
Ø Keep track on your feeding habits
Don’t Skip any meal. Have your meals on time.
Ø Time management is the key
Time for studies, time for rest, time for eating, time for sleep, time for exercise, time to spend with family. Managing your time well helps you to avoid feeling overwhelmed, so you’ll be less stressed.
Ø Avoid multitasking
Doing several tasks at once may seem like an efficient use of your time, but multitasking actually wastes time and reduces the quality of your work.
Ø Avoid screen time during exams
It decreases your concentration and you feel fatigued. Make use of devices and the internet when necessary. Don’t overuse mobile phones, TV, Laptops etc. Take a break from social media.
Ø Try to be happy and use positive affirmations
Tell yourself that I am doing my best, that I won’t get distressed by exams etc.
Ø Drink Tea or Coffee (but in limited manner)
Enjoy a soothing cup of tea every day, and it will help you to prepare more effectively for your exams.
Ø Do deep breathing exercises regularly
Ø Practice mindfulness
Ø Listen to good music in between, if you like it
Ø Read something for leisure
How can teachers help students to deal with exam stress?
Teachers play a very important role in dealing with examination stress in students. Teachers should not be partial to students and spend more time helping them in their syllabus and study plans. Teachers should help in planning time table and track performance of their students.
How can parents help their children to deal with exam stress?
· Parents need to boost the confidence of their children and help them in performing well.
· Parents need to discuss anxiety or stress issues with their children.
· Parents can help their child to plan time table and spend quality time with children.
· Parents should not compare them with other kids.
· Parents should not expect more than their kid’s capacity.
· Parents should guide their children to exercise and take breaks.
· Parents should help their children to follow time management and diet plans.
· Parents should keep the environment at home peaceful and happy.
· Parents should bring positivity in their children's life.
Exams are important for assessing students’ performance throughout the academic year. They get stressed, but it is important to deal with the stress positively.