Examination Stress Management

Dr. Romesh Sharma
This is exam season in the whole country. We know that exams bring with them a lot of excitement, anxiety, pressure, worry, expectation and sometimes even depression. Some of the symptoms of examination anxiety are physiological over-arousal, tension and bodily symptoms, nausea or minor stomach upsets, aches, nail-biting or fidgeting, worry, dread, fear of failure, catastrophizing, feeling sad, racing heart and sweating, feeling overwhelmed or unable to make decisions, losing touch with friends. Some of the reasons of examination stress are over expectation of parents/ teachers, under preparation, negative thinking, irrational beliefs.
In a recent mental health survey by NCERT, examinations and results are one of the most prominent reasons of anxiety among school going students. It’s very unfortunate that unfavorable exam results have led to mass suicides in the past. Exam warriors is a beautiful book written by PM Narendra Modi to provide examination tips to students. In order to diffuse exam anxiety and give important tips to students the Prime Minister has been conducting Pariksha Pe Charcha (PPC) since 2018.
Here are some tips which may help students and parents to sail well through the examination journey.
Visualize Success
Visualizing success i.e mentally visualizing successful end results helps you to manage stress by bringing in positive emotions. It also results in self-fulfilling prophesy that lead you to success.
Never comparing yourself with others
Each individual is unique, so comparing yourself with others limits your horizons and leads to stress and negative results.
Positive Self-Talk
Self-criticism sends negative messages to our subconscious mind leading to stress and lowered self-esteem. One should avoid negative thoughts by being mindful about them. Keeping exams in right perspective also helps you to manage stress. Exam is test of your current preparation not you, so it is just small part of your larger life. Preparing visual mind maps is a good way to consolidate your long-term memory and enhance chances of recall in the exam. Using memory enhancement techniques like acronyms (VIBGYOR for colours of rainbow, acrostics, chunking i.e., breaking down of large peace of information in smaller ones also can help in memory enhancement. One should take regular short breaks after every 30 to 40 minutes to avoid fatigue, boredom and to enhance memory.
Taking care of physical health
Having good nutritious food, drinking a lot of water, avoiding fast food, doing physical activities, having sound sleep etc. can help you to manage exam stress.
Proper sleep
Is one of the significant factors to keep you recharged and consolidate your learning.
Improving concentration
Through meditation, mindful exercises, avoiding distractions can help you enhance exam performance and minimize exam stress. Keeping your mind grounded by doing different mindful exercises, performing relaxation techniques like stretching and flexing muscles, mentally scanning your stressed-out body parts by lying down, exercising can help you minimize examination stress. Talking to Parents/Teachers can help you unburden your fears, concerns consequently relieving your stress. Parents should also provide emotional support to their wards to keep them relaxed. Open friendly communication with parents can work wonders to lessen examination stress.
Time management
Time management is key to strong preparation as well as better performance during exams. Managing your time by setting priorities, noting and removing time wasters will enhance your performance and help you manage your stress.
To keep yourself self-motivated, it is good idea to give yourself mini rewards and do self-praise. Collaborative study by having a study buddy works wonders for many students by complementing their preparations and providing emotional support. For some students group work mitigates stress. Listening to music, dance or practicing your hobby a bit can help you manage your exam anxiety.
Read Carefully
While taking examination, read questions carefully before writing answers. Don’t jump to write immediately. Don’t react immediately if the question paper is too easy or too difficult. Writing question numbers as per question paper is a must. Length of answers should be as per the weightage of question asked. On the day of examination following some practices like reaching early, writing all the question numbers carefully, write according to the questions asked (Definition, Explanation, Description, Difference, note etc.), underline, highlighting important points, writing objectively (in points) may help improve scores. Don’t waste too much time on one question only, spend time on each question proportionately, start new question or second part of same question with a gap, finish all multiple-choice questions at same place. Flow charts, diagrams, tables, examples are very important while writing exams.
No Mixing
Do not inter-mix different sections much. Do take care of signs, symbols in case of maths paper. Do write introduction and conclusions where required. Start from the question you know best. Take a deep breath if you are stuck. Do report, if anyone around you is disturbing you. (Staff, Students, infrastructure, other officials etc.) Be vigilant about the copying material thrown at your place. Carry multiple pens with whom you have practiced before. Pack everything a night before exam. Spare ten minutes to review the paper. To sum up keeping oneself grounded is the best way to keep examination stress at way. Finally taking examinations in right perspective and celebrating them like festival is the best way to avoid exam stress.
(The author is Head Counselling Cell, Directorate of School Education Jammu.)

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