Exam stress | Nealife

Study hard and you will surely get the expected result – Only if it were the truth! According to the Times of India, in Jaipur, statistics show surprising figures of exam stress. A survey conducted on school students revealed startling figures of exam stress among teens/adolescents. The statistics show that a month before the exams, only 13% of students have exam stress whereas a week before the exam the stress strikes up to 82.2%. An exceptionally good student, who had a track record of scoring good marks throughout his school, appeared for a competitive exam. Despite his good memory and information retaining capacity, he failed to receive the anticipated marks and had to appear for the exam twice before succeeding.

Even with adequate practice and study, at any age, the word ‘exam’ can paint a not so comfortable picture. The exam is one of the many topics that can make anyone get “butterflies in their stomachs”. The level of studying is usually considered as the only measure for academic success. But sometimes even ample amounts of studying can result in a less than expected output when experiencing exam stress. A person can experience some nervousness before and even after an exam. Though a little bit of nervousness is helpful to write an exam paper effectively, when it becomes overwhelming and interferes with your performance, it can be known as “exam stress”. 

A student might have taken detailed notes, read every chapter, and even attended extra study sessions. Although, when presented with the exam paper itself, they feel so nervous that they blank out the answers to the questions and cannot proceed forward. This inability to retain information during the exam can make focusing the attention on the paper difficult. As a result, they are not able to perform as expected in the examination.

Stress during exams or studying and the resulting low outcome can make the individual feel low and can affect other aspects of his/her life. Let us look at some causes of exam stress:

  • Familial pressure
  • Societal pressure
  • Elevated self-expectations
  • Financial pressure
  • Familial pressure: Parents tend to have expectations from their children in terms of marks, studies, and position in the class. These expectations often burden the child and soon his/her self-confidence starts to disintegrate. The child struggles to live up to the expectations which cause stress and panic, which also reflects in their exams.
  • Societal pressure: Similar to familial pressure, societal pressure also has a negative effect on the child. The famous question “What will people say?” pops up in parents’ minds when their child achieves lower than expected. Children try their best to cope up with this burden but can be unsuccessful at times, which leads to a negative self-image.
  • Elevated self-expectations: Here, children have too many expectations of themselves. Self-expectations result from comparing self with other peers and classmates. The child tries to compare himself/herself with the “good marks” category of students. If they cannot score good marks like them, it creates a rift between their real self and ideal self and the student starts looking down on himself/herself.
  • Financial pressure: Financial pressure is a subtype of familial pressure and a big aspect when it comes to studies and exam stress. When students want to study further but do not have enough resources for the same creates a rift which leads to feeling stressed and anxious. This does not allow the student to focus on studies enough and results in low outcomes.

When the causes of exam stress are understood by students, parents, and society, and awareness will be spread, many cases of student depression and suicide can decrease.

Just like there are symptoms for physical illnesses, there are symptoms of mental illnesses, in this case, exam stress. Many of the symptoms are casually dismissed by parents or society indicating that an exam is easy and the child is unnecessarily making a fuss out of it. Many issues which are important from the student’s point of view regarding exams are overlooked making them seem trivial and unnecessary. The following are types of symptoms of exam stress: 

  • Physical symptoms 
  1. Physical symptoms include sweating
  2. Shaking
  3. Body tremors

Khushbu Gajbhiye

Psychologist

NEA Life, Pune