By: Dr. Anjana Thadani
Handling exam stress is an extremely important task. The stress starts right from getting the time table and rushing through the syllabus to extreme anxiety bordering on panic just before the exams.
Why are some exams so important? This phenomenon occurs as a result of multiple intricate factors and events. Competition is considered an important reason for building stress. Usually the impression is that it is too tough out there, that the better marks we get, the better prepared we are to face the world. Has there ever been a time in history when competition did not exist? Indeed, anyone with an out of the box attitude has virtually no competition but their own set of challenges and goals. Sometimes competition is positive too, it keeps one going and drivesto give the best.
Another dominant factor which emerges is the belief that success in exams is necessary for future growth. The personal aspirations have also risen with the higher standard of living. The world around us is perceived as extremely materialistic and hence the role of success has never been as critical. However, success is considered as only good marks or a high corporate position.
Yet another trend is to follow your heart and choose what you like. But this attitude is not without multiple risks. Following your passion will give immense satisfaction but not necessarily appropriate financial support. Shunning parental advice is fashionable but, in most cases, they are the best judge of the child’s capabilities. Parental expectations are perceived as mixed lately. Today parents are more aware and accepting of newer career options.
Whatever is the cause, the level of stress has been rising alarmingly among students. Handling this important yet critical phase would require definite preparedness.
Start early – Doing bit by bit over a period of time would mean patience and perseverance. One has to start early and continue the efforts over a period of time. Summarization and revision helps with understanding of concept as well as in recall during examination.
Planning – Looking at the larger picture and organizing the tasks can take the stress out. It also gives a feeling of being in control of the situation. It helps to break the task into smaller achievable short term goals. However, one has to be realistic about one’s own during goal setting.
Do it now – Procrastination or pushing the task indefinitely is a common trait. This increases the stress and leads to overload during exams. Setting priorities is a must especially close to exams. Everything else can wait.
Effective study skills – Learning is the highest function of human brain. It requires mobilization of entire processing unit to perform adequately in situations like examination. Not able to remember during the examination is the biggest fear for any student. Memory can be strengthened by building associations, repeated exposure by revisions or some salient feature related to the task. Pneumonic helps while learning points in a long answer. Flow charts or diagrams help in visual memory and recall later.
The right attitude –The most effective way to deal with stress during examination is still the positive attitude. A proper road map to reach your goal is needed for sustaining optimism. Parents should help with positive encouragement and support during this period.
In summary, exams are not the be-all and end-all of life. They are just a part of the overall learning process, and though doing well in exams is important, there is so much more to life that contributes to an individual’s overall growth. Doing what you are best at along with a positive attitude, old fashioned hard work and good time management is THE MANTRA for success during exams.
Dr. Anjana Thadani is Consulting Developmental Paediatrician, Director Niramaya Hospitals, Mumbai and Navi Mumbai