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December 30, 2015 / Michelle Manasseh - Counsellor

By definition, Exam Stress is “a feeling of pressure that many young people feel coming up to exam time. It usually occurs during the revision period before exams and immediately before the exams themselves. Stress is defined as an individual’s response to pressure”.

Exam Stress! These two words have grown to become a crucial part of a student’s life. It has taken a whole different meaning over the years: from dealing with the typical anxiety and panic that one feels a couple of weeks before the exam, to lasting throughout the year, intensified into full blown anxiety, depression, and suicide.

Unfortunately, the reality of the situation is the existence of Exams and the Stress that is invariably attached to it. The National Crime Records Bureau revealed last year, that the failure in examinations has been the second biggest reason for children’s suicides across India in 2011. These are statistics that cannot be ignored as, the fact remains that academic performance is a tremendous stressor with the youth; one that leads to dangerous levels of anxiety, depression and loss of life if not addressed effectively. Student’s seem to perceive their success (90% and above) and failure (less than 90%) in exams as a “life or death” situation and that is the “reality” that we as adults have created for them. Therefore, it has become essential that a student handles stress and anxiety in a healthy manner, considering the amount of pressure he/she faces (academic, social or in their extracurricular activities) is growing leaps and bounds every year.

Stress usually stems from external and internal factors. While the external factors can be the pressures, challenges and quantum of work that one has, the internal factors include low self-confidence, self- doubt, fear of failure and fear of disappointment. The first step to start working towards coping with any type of stress is to identify what is causing the stress. Once that is taken care of, one can start moving towards coping with it effectively. Therefore, below are a few pointers to help one reflect on the problem area and take steps to reduce stress, leading to a healthier life.

– Give yourself enough time to study and revise what you’ve studied the way that works best for you and not the way it works best for your best friend (if studying in a group or doing multiple question papers, doesn’t help you then find alternatives like asking someone to revise orally with you or studying on your own).

– Talk to someone if you are feeling overwhelmed with pressure. There is no shame in reaching out for help.

– Try not to compare yourself with your friends. Remember, we all have different capabilities. It is important that we work towards doing OUR best and not someone else’s best.

– Get enough sleep, nutrients and exercise especially during exam time. Studies show that giving yourself enough time for sleep and exercise, helps you concentrate better and improves your memory.

– Have some extracurricular activities (playing an instrument, drawing, playing a sport etc.) that you can involve yourself in. They can be great ways of spending your break time between studying.

– Finally, remember this exam is not a reflection of who you are and your capabilities. How you do is not the beginning or the end of your life. People around you love and care for who you are and not for the results you produce.

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