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Overcoming exam anxiety: strategies to manage stress

Overcoming exam anxiety: strategies to manage stress

Exams looming? Pressure can keep you focused, or cause stress. Here are tips to cope
exam stress, anxiety, exam pressure,
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Pressure was taking a toll on Nidhi Sharma’s physical and mental health in 2018 when her CBSE exams approached. Her stomach was churning, her palms were sweating, and she was having trouble concentrating and sleeping.  Moreover, her appetite had decreased significantly.   

Gradually, stress and anxiety  started to affect her studies. The Kolkata resident had trouble recalling what she learned and was constantly second-guessing her answers. However, with hard work and perseverance, she graduated with flying colours.   

 “I should be more mindful of my mental and physical health and take the necessary steps to manage my stress,” was the lesson Sharma learned during those days.  

 Stress and anxiety are common among students, especially those taking board exams. But how one manages it, matters the most.  

Exam anxiety is common 

Pressure from parents and peers, coupled with a knot in your stomach, can be overwhelming. Though some argue a bit of stress and nervousness is necessary to stay motivated, too much of it can have adverse effects. Hence, it is important to stay calm and composed during this time.  

According to a National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT) study on 3.79 lakh students across the country, examinations and results are major causes of anxiety among school students. The Manodarpan Cell of the NCERT, which aims to provide psychosocial support for mental health and well-being of students, undertook the task of conducting this survey across numerous schools to examine how students in the middle (grades 6-8) and secondary stages (9–12) of education perceived their mental health. 

Madhurima Acharya, academic coordinator (Senior School), Delhi Public School, Newtown, says that children often worry about completing the syllabus and tend to forget what they have learned ahead of exams. Some children experience stress a month prior to the exams, which can make them anxious and not study. To prevent this, we train students and their parents through seminars, she adds. 

Shweta Nema, teacher and counsellor at Ojas Global School in Madhya Pradesh, highlights how schools offer online facilities to students. This includes discussing doubts on WhatsApp and uploading solved answer scripts to Google Classroom. This reduces stress and anxiety, especially during last-minute exam preparations.  

To know more about how to manage exam stress read here

Symptoms of exam-related anxiety include 

  • diarrhoea 
  • headaches 
  • difficulty focusing  
  • rapid heartbeat 
  • feeling of fainting 
  • negative thinking   

Insufficient sleep can often lead to stress and a lack of appetite. e. This, in turn, can cause vomiting, gastric pain, headaches, and ultimately poor performance in the exam. 

Expert tips to tackle exam stress  

 Geetika Arora Bhojak, founder of The Mindful Foundation, explains that children can experience serious mental stress due to school, homework, and tuition. This is especially true if they do not fully realise the extent of their struggle. Parents may unknowingly harm their child’s sleep and health by pushing them to study till late at night, leading to sleep deprivation and poor concentration. 

Choose a technique that works for you and review your progress after two-three weeks, advises Dr Ali Khwaja,  counsellor and life skill coach at Banjara Academy in Bengaluru.  

A few tips to tackle exam stress 

  •  Prepare everything in advance. It reduces stress and enables students to think more clearly. 
  • Revision is the key to success. Thus, re-reading thoroughly will help them remember and do better on the day of the test. 
  • Writing notes and highlighting important concepts helps them review the most important parts when time is limited or before the examination. 
  • Students should practise the subject they are weak in, for thirty minutes every day. 
  • Meditating for 10 minutes, taking a warm shower, and doing some light stretching can help calm the mind and optimize performance during exams. 
  • Eating healthy meals will act as fuel for the brain, providing all the nutrients needed for memory, attention, and learning. 
  •   Trust yourself and give your best.  

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