Busting the exam stress
Updated on Nov 5, 2018 - 5:45 p.m. IST by Ramneet Kaur

The performance in board exams mostly determines the future course and career for students. So, what are the key strategies to cope with the board exams stress?

With the growing competition, the stress of performing well in board exams is also increasing. Board exam is one of the most crucial phases when students go through the extreme psychological pressure of seeking admission in top universities as well as meeting the parental and school expectations. “Many students misunderstand that their lives depend on the results of the board exams. Although, some of them get this idea from their peers or family, for others it is a product of their own mind. Stress levels are increasing among students as there are increasing demands on them to multitask and compete for their overall development,” says Swati Sharma, a student counsellor at Amity Global School, Gurgaon.

Need for student counselling

In a competitive scenario, board exams appear to students as terrified border field, as if their lives will end  if they don’t achieve desired scores. It is sometimes due to this exam pressure and anxiety that students look for someone to help them, and therefore, a student counsellor’s role becomes crucial.

Swati Sharma says, “Parents and teachers should help students perceive board exams as a challenge rather than as something scary. This would lead to positive eustress rather than distress in students and help them perform better. Parents should keep realistic expectations from their children and should avoid doing comparisons with other children as every child is different. The positive and healthy atmosphere should be at home and in school. Negative criticism and use of demeaning language should be avoided for low achievers.”

It is the fear of letting down the parents which mostly makes students victims of stress. Therefore, it is very essential to make parents conscious of the fact that every child has his own strength as well as limitations and unrealistic expectations will only cause the anxiety and stress among the children. 

Preparing for exams without stress

Advising students on how to prepare for the exams without stress, Sharma, says, “Students should be engaged in regular study and revisions. They should prepare a timetable for themselves and follow it religiously.” She is of the view that regular study will not only help the students in getting prepared for the exams but also boost their confidence and enable them to face the exam without any stress. 

Tackling the exam stress

In order to overcome the exam stress, Swati Sharma suggests that some positive changes in lifestyle need to be adopted by students. She says, “Practicing mindfulness and yoga during their board exam years would equip them to deal with exam stress better. They should keep good sleep patterns, eat healthy, must adopt a positive attitude towards exams along with engaging in regular and sufficient relaxation time.” 

As only when their mind is at ease they will be able to perform well in the exams.to benefit in the future. Former students are often invited to the campus for school events, an inspirational talk or lectures on specific topics. They also pitch in to contribute to the school’s website. Old students write blogs for the school’s website and engage in intense alumni networking, giving advice and direction. “Former students are also invited into campus programming, creating a sustained relationship of engagement and stewardship,” says Sharma.   

Usha-%20AlbuquerqueHere is a look at the stress points and how to deal with them by Usha Albuquerque, Director, Careers Smart...

Q. With growing competition, isn’t the stress level also increasing among students?

A. Stress for students has increased for two reasons. The first is that our higher education system lays too much focus on marks obtained rather than on the actual learning and knowledge gained by the students. Under such a system, a student able to learn by rote the “perfect answer” to a question scores better marks than another who does not. There is no scope for creativity, reasoning or articulation. Secondly, there is stress among students because there are limited colleges and institutions of high standard and admission is mostly on the basis of the same school board results.

Q. Board exams have always been seen as the most stressful period for students. How do you think it can be combated?

A. Today a majority of students are victims of poor teaching. So tuition factories flourish, where exam survival skills are taught instead of real knowledge. There is little learning for the sake of knowledge, expertise or interest. As long as marks are the only criteria for selection to a college or university, there will be stress for the students. The dependence on coaching classes and tuitions is destroying school level teaching and it needs to be curbed. The goal of education is to prepare you with learning and skills for whatever the future may hold in store, not just for getting into the best institutions. Also, students should participate in extracurricular activities to generate broad knowledge as well as develop social and interpersonal skills.

Q. Since you have been counselling students for so long, are there any specific issues which students keep on facing?

A. Students tend to restrict their study options only to a few well-known colleges and institutions in India. Today there are many new institutions of excellent academic standing, faculty and infrastructure, so students should broaden their search. Moreover, there are also so many different courses of study that can open up employment opportunities for young people – these too should be explored. Every individual has a range of different talents and any one of which could enable them to carve out a successful career. 

Q. Is it only board exams stressing the students or parental pressure of performing well is the real culprit?

A. Parents play an important role in motivating their children. They must refrain from exerting pressure or extending their own ambitions onto their children. Most importantly, parents should not transfer their anxieties onto their children, or burden them with unrealistic expectations. Not everyone can make it to the top institutions or courses, so it is good to be aware of alternatives and courses for students who are unable to meet the cut-off requirements. Parents can also help to create a suitable environment for study. A separate part of the house where the students can have peace is essential; a limited number of distractions, while also ensuring that there are sufficient relaxation periods are other ways in which parents can help.   

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