LOOKING BEYOND EXAM STRESS AND ANXIETY
The positive impact of Exams
EXAMS! We can safely say not many of us like the sound of it; a much-dreaded word for children and parents alike. Exam time is always associated with stress as pressure levels mount for both parents and children. This is especially so during the crucial years of 10th and 12th standards where children are faced with Board exams and much is at stake. At the beginning of the academic year itself tension builds and the fear of examinationkeeps compounding till the exams are over. And at the end of it, a huge sigh of relief. Thank God it’s over!
For students who are disciplined in their approach from the very beginning, it is a cakewalk. For those who are not, exam stress and anxiety take over as they literally struggle to keep up with studies, the numerous class tests, revisions and so on. The stress of examsmanifests itself in different forms – sleeplessness, poor appetite, feeling moody and irritable, lack of motivation, headaches, nausea, feeling faint, etc and can be quite overpowering and difficult to overcome.
And then the questioning and wishful thinking happens; “Why do we have to have exams”? “I wish we didn’t have exams”, “They expect us to learn so much, and for what? I am not going to use this in the future” and the grumbling and complaining go on and on. Late nights trying to cram in as much as possible, accompanied by mum bringing “Horlicks” and “Complan” and snacks from time to time, tuitions on one side, setting alarms to wake up early to continue cramming… Gosh! When will it end? We cannot see exams as anything else apart from being “a pain in the neck”.
So, what causes Exam Stress for students?
A big part is due to the expectations placed on us to score “good marks”, which takes the fun out of the learning process one can say. It is a common perception that marks scored determine how intelligent you are. Well, we have been brought up in a society that places undue importance on marks as an indicator of one’s capabilities and is regarded as a measure of one’s future success. Schools also assign immense value to marks, as conventional teaching and assessment methods continue to be in existence.
Marks as an indicator of intelligence is a myth that needs to be busted, as research in the field of learning has led to the discovery of Multiple Intelligences, which in simple terms states that every person has eight different types of multiple intelligences in different ratios and that everyone has different ways of learning.
However, while we all wish for alternate means of assessing our intelligence and capabilities in schools and colleges, unfortunately, marks continue to assume top priority and exams are here to stay. We just have to deal with it.
But let’s flip the coin and look at the other side. Are exams always the “monster” that it is made out to be? Can we learn anything from Exams? As it turns out, yes, exams can teach us some very important long-lasting life skills that will pave the way for success in our professional and personal lives.
Self-discipline: This is an invaluable skill that preparing for examinations teaches you. The Collins dictionary defines Self Discipline as “the ability to control yourself and to make yourself work hard or behave in a particular way without needing anyone else to tell you what to do”. This skill comes with practice and with it comes independence and the ability to make decisions to meet your goals, which is the key to achieving consistent success with your efforts.
The ability to Focus: Preparing for exams helps one develop focus. And focus is needed to get results. Becoming aware of what distracts you (TV, smartphones, social media, video games etc) and staying away from it during study time will help you become more productive and make you feel more accomplished. Accomplishing the task on hand with minimal distractions is a skill set required in any professional field as well.
Time Management: In the exam process, Time Management is inbuilt every step of the way. It teaches you how to organize your day to minimize stress and ensure that you are productive. Along with Time Management comes Prioritising. You learn how to schedule your time by paying attention to the most important tasks as you deal with subjects, tests, and assignments. Setting aside time for revision and learning how to answer the exam questions within the stipulated time with sufficient time for review at the end, will prepare you to meet deadlines later in your professional career.
Be a continuous learner: Today in this fast-paced, technology-driven world, one needs to be a continuous learner to stay relevant. The exam process trains your mind to be adept at learning, grasping information, and recalling the same, while at the same time boosting your memory power. The brain is being trained to strengthen the lines of communication and develop long-lasting connections which will help you in adulthood and in your future career as well.
Develop a competitive spirit: Here we are not referring to marks and the need to compete with others by getting more marks. If seen the right way, exams generate self-awareness by helping you develop an assessment of your own strengths and weaknesses. With this knowledge, you can be motivated to work harder and compete with yourself in order to become a better version of yourself – a more confident you. In the same way, at the workplace, understanding your own shortcomings and taking steps to better yourself will take you places in your career progression path.
Overcoming fear: With exams comes fear- there are no two ways about it. There is always that anxiety and worry that pops its ugly head from time to time. But the beauty of it is that we have no option but to cope and overcome our Fear of Examination, as there is no escape from it. Fear becomes a motivator as we do not want to fail. That makes us work harder. This important life skill will also benefit us in the future, as we will need to face challenges head-on and not shy away from them.
There you have it! Exams are not so bad after all, isn’t it? If only one stops associating exams with just scoring marks, or treating is as the only test of intelligence, your mind will be open to the important lessons and skills that can be learned from them. Exams literally put you to the test and make you push boundaries, enabling you to discover yourself in the process, overcome your shortcomings and teach you very important life skills that will prepare you for the future.
So parents, don’t just keep harping about marks and instilling the fear of examination in your child. Understand that your child’s intelligence can be reflected in other ways. Just because they do not score a centum doesn’t make them any less capable. Always remember, all five fingers are not the same and in the same way if your child falls short in one parameter, he or she will excel in another. So, without undue pressure on your children and escalating their exam stress and anxiety, help to make learning fun for them and teach them about the flip side of the coin – how studies and preparing for exams can teach them to become more efficient individuals in the future.
If your child is facing exam-related fears and anxieties and you are finding it difficult to handle, do not worry. Book an appointment with us and we will make it easier for you.