All about bracing yourself for coping with examination stress
When I look back on all these worries, I remember the story of the old man who said on his deathbed that he had had a lot of trouble in his life, most of which had never happened.
– Winston Churchill
Unlike his friends, Prateek, a 17-year-old boy of Class XII, was very frustrated today. Even in the school bus when all his friends frolicked, Prateek kept to himself and did not speak a single word to anyone. Today, the board examination schedule had been published and next month he was to take his final examination. Worried as he was, he did not even return home at the usual time that day until his mother desperately made a call to her son’s close friend. Ever since, Prateek stopped eating properly. Nor did he sleep sufficiently. He used to get restless at times and failed to concentrate on his studies and attend to his daily activities. Through the doctor she came to know that Prateek was stressed due to the imminent final examinations.
In fact, Prateek is not the only example of a student who gets perplexed and goes into panic at the approach of the examinations. There are so many Prateeks who suffer from such a type of most commonly found syndrome which we may call examination phobia.
Examination stress is very common among students and there is nothing bizarre about it. All students commonly pass through this critical phase which arises out of excessive worry to excel and outshine other competitors in the race. The fear of examination adversely affects the performance and abnormally disturbs the psychological balance of the examinees. It is characterized by feelings of utter confusion, worry, frustration, anxiety, depression, frustration and perplexity.
However, psychologists across the world believe that a certain degree of stress is inevitable and essential for good performance both in the examination and in life, because some stress functions as a catalyst which keeps on prodding the students for doing better and better in the examination. Moreover, stress to some extent makes us stay focused on the goal that we want to reach in our lives. In fact, a feeling of nervousness is quite natural in a student’s life. The history of the achievements of all heroes, winners and great personalities is replete with circumstances when they had to brace themselves for a variety of stress. Though it is impossible to root out the stress of examination yet we can considerably tame and pacify it to the extent of not hurting the student’s brain. What we need most is to learn to handle stress and pressure. If we overcome it we will not worry about it.
That is why it is very important to undergo an array of time-proven techniques which may effectively help students to cope with those anxieties and stress which are born out of fear of failure in the examination.
For busting stress we need a two-pronged strategy – first, students must plan seriously and meticulously to prepare for the examinations. Secondly, they need to stay cool, calm and composed when the pressure of doing better than others starts affecting the routine of life.
1. YOUR APPROACH TO LIFE AND CAREER MUST BE REALISTIC
Every person on this earth is born with some inherent talent which the rest of the people do not possess. So it is very essential for students to recognize their special talent. It is best to ask yourself – what best can you do? What is your forte which others do not have? Based upon these honest findings and facts students should set a specific aim for their lives.
There is no gainsaying the fact that setting goals without knowing your strengths and weaknesses would merely put you into jeopardy. Besides, your goal must not be influenced by the unrealistic dreams of your parents and peer pressure.
2. YOU MUST HAVE A FLAWLESS AND PRACTICAL STUDY PLAN
Planning is the stepping stone of success in human life. That is why it is usually said that if you fail to plan you plan to fail. An immaculate study plan is inevitably essential for good examination preparation. However, before making a plan one must keep in mind – how many hours you have at your disposal to give to serious study. Planning only for the sake of planning would not help the students.
3. BE OPEN TO YOUR PROBLEM AND SPEAK TO YOUR PARENTS IN TIME OF CRISIS
In a stressful situation, it is better to talk openly about the problems with someone whom the students trust most and whom they consider as their confidant. Sharing the problems reduces the tension. However, the sensitive, empathetic, sympathetic and caring attitude of the parents also in this critical time of anxiety may prove to be a much-needed cushion.
A teacher in this troubled condition too may prove to be a great saviour. She can help dispel any fear or phobia that might have arisen due to natural pressure of imminent examinations.
4. STICK TO THE STUDY PLAN
There is a general tendency among students to be in a hurry to prepare for the examination when the days of examination are approaching. This haste makes them tense. A well-planned study schedule for various subjects in the wake of nearing examinations provides the much-required confidence to face the inevitable pressure. Students need to chalk out a comprehensive time plan for all subjects but at the same time they must essentially emphasize more on those subjects which they find difficult.
5. SUMMARIZE AND MAKE NOTES OF WHAT YOU READ
While studying any subject it is of prime importance to prepare notes highlighting the main points. Prepare a gist of each lesson to get yourself well acquainted with it. Jotting down the important points, dates, years, formulae, equations and other important things too may considerably help students to understand and better prepare the subject matter.
6. ONLY PRACTICE MAKES YOU PERFECT
The old adage goes that practice makes a man perfect. There is no denying that by persistently working on certain topics and subjects, students can master them very well. Sometimes, methods and strategies of practice may differ but one common practice, irrespective of the subject, is to make notes of the topics, understanding them well and writing them again and again to ensure that they are now completely within the ambit of your knowledge and consciousness.
Solving the questions given in the exercises of the chapters can really boost the confidence of students.
7. MEDITATE REGULARLY TO GAIN PEACE OF MIND
Meditation brings about peace of mind, enlightens the soul and comforts the body; inner energy gets strengthened; the mind is filled with unbelievable energy and enthusiasm. Also anxiety level falls down much.
Most importantly, the immense power of intuition develops which also substantially helps reduce stress-related pressure and problems. This personal transformation in the form of sharper mind, enlightened soul and enhanced focus and strengthened concentration helps the students to grasp the subject matter.
8. AVOID JUNK FOOD
Maintenance of good health is very essential for good performance in the examination. Good health means mental and physical fitness and which is really a matter of regular exercise and good nourishing diet. One must avoid fast food or junk food as they are likely to badly affect the digestive system and immunity of the body. Sound and sufficient sleep is also an essential condition for good health.
9. STOP COMPARING YOURSELF WITH YOUR FRIENDS
Apart from biological differences in humanbeings, we must learn to deal with the universal fact that all people on this earth have their own inherent capacity. No two people on the earth can have the same nature and inclination
It is always good to insulate yourself from what others do and dream. Your life is only yours. Your circumstances are only yours.
10. DO NOT AVOID FRIENDS
Passing time with friends is never considered fruitful and beneficial by the parents of students and that too, at the time when the examinations are very close. But psychologically this attitude has its risks. Talking to friends and sharing problems with them has its advantages which substantially help reduce and release tension and worries. True friends enrich, encourage, enlighten and console during crisis. Meeting with friends definitely relieves a lot of unwanted worries at the most crucial time of examinations.
11. USE MNEMONICS FOR EASY AND PERMANENT MEMORY
Mnemonics are widely used as a memory device which helps in the retention, storage and retrieval of information with the help of scientific and meaningful arrangement of words and letters. Take the help of mnemonics to learn various points of answers of a question. For example, to learn the position of the planets from the increasing distance of the sun we can use the following mnemonic-
My Very Efficient Mother Just Served Us Nuts.
(Here the first letter of each word gives the name of a planet -like M of ‘My’ stands for Mercury which is the closest planet to the sun. Similarly the word ‘Very’ signifies the name of Venus and so on). This technique of mnemonics helps a lot to have a permanent memory of the subject matter and builds up the confidence of the students.
The great Chinese teacher and philosopher Confucius once said, ‘Our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall.’ What it implies is the fact that success lies in our efforts which we make to reach a goal and not in reaching the goal itself. The more effort you make to succeed despite failures, the more courageous you grow to be in your life and as a result you end up calming yourself and coping up with the stress.
Henry Ford has said, ‘When everything seems to be going against you, remember that the airplane takes off against the wind, not with it.’ What it implies is that despite difficulties and challenges we need not be perturbed and subject ourselves to stress.
Shree Prakash Sharma holds a degree M A (Economics) from Pandit Ravishankar Shukla University, Raipur, Chhattisgarh, and B.Ed degree from Barkatullah Uni.Bhopal, MP
He is presently working as PRINCIPAL at Jawahar Navodaya Vidyalaya, Dinthar Veng, P.O – Mamit, District- Mamit, Mizoram (Jawahar Navodaya Vidyalaya, a brainchild of the former Prime Minister Late Sh. Rajiv Gandhi, is a residential school, which functions under the Ministry of HRD, Govt of India.).
I am writing for a number of magazines and newspapers both in Hindi and English as a freelancer. Motivational and socio-familial genres are my forte.
I am also writing for the All India Radio. My articles have been broadcast by AIR Raipur (CG) and AIR Darbhanga (Bihar). E-mail ID- email@example.com