A Psychological Icepack for the Examination Fever

Reports indicate that in India each year 2000 students die by suicide, in cases related to examination pressure and failure


Photo: Redd

Jan. 3, 2022

No matter how many years of exam-giving experience we’ve garnered, sitting down to give another one of those always evokes some stressful emotions. Especially if the exams in question are a rather significant milestone in our educational life.

What’s more challenging for the students of this academic year and the one before it, is that they didn’t have the chance to get a gist of the process through preparatory tests at school, and must now face their finals.

This could trigger some stress and/or anxiety for not just the students, but also their families who witness their loved ones undergoing this period. There may even be moments when family expectations themselves become a contributing factor to the pressure experienced by the child.

It is therefore important to acknowledge those emotions and equip ourselves with tools to manage them, to deliver our best performance.

So, to all the young minds reading this, here is a range of solutions for a problem that will soon be a mere anecdote to sigh over!

Set Realistic Goals

You know yourself well enough by now to know that keeping the last day to revise ten topics is a bad idea. Thus, divide your preparation in a way that you’re able to capitalize on the time you have, to achieve the most you can.

Spend some time understanding the allocation of marks for each topic and cover the meatiest portions first. This takes care of slicing the study material into easily approachable chunks, systematically reduces the pressure by each passing day, and helps you stay organized!

Photo: Jason

Own the Prep

Think of your exams as a short-term creative project. Do your best to make the preparation as interesting as possible. If you’re a theatre buff who doesn’t like history, Akbar’s empire is your next script. A dancer who was told mathematics is not your thing? Well, 5-6-7-8 your way into those formulas! A brain that can retain choreography is smart enough to solve an equation (it’s science, your cerebellum knows what we mean).

If you’re a visual learner who finds the textbook drab, flashcards are your go-to! Similarly, there are endless ways to customize your preparation to suit your interests.


Schedule Mandatory Breaks

The average adolescent’s concentration span is about forty minutes. Don’t stretch your study sessions beyond an hour in one go, or you’ll invite counter-productivity, which in turn, lays the seed for procrastination.

Give those forty minutes your hundred percent, and take a five-to-ten-minute break wherein you drink water, or grab a snack, take a short walk, stretch, etc. based on what your body needs at that moment.

Here’s the golden rule, don’t sacrifice your sleep. Your cognitive faculties become compromised when your brain hasn’t had adequate rest. Additionally, your body will need an extra day to recover from a sleepless night, and that could interfere with your next exam!

This is Not the Only Thing That Defines You
You are more than just your marks. Repeat that to yourself each time the pressure begins to get to you. If the constant discourse around you focuses on the importance of these marks as a means to land a good job, then that’s all it is, a discourse, and not the final truth.

Your employers will look beyond your scores and will be interested in the overall strengths that you bring to the table. Classroom discussions, internships, events, hobbies, those are the things that really develop your competence. So, the job part? Future-You has that sorted.

Keep Your Perspective Long-Term
Remember, as important as an exam maybe, at the end of the day, it is just an exam. Treat it like one.

Photo: Jeswin Thomas

Five or ten years later, when you look back at your study years, these exams are not the part you will recall most fondly. It’ll be the moments spent laughing with your friends, discussing matters of intrigue with your teachers, and all the things that made you smile while you were there.

Lastly, if you’re feeling overwhelmed, reach out to a friend or family member. An elder member who’s been through this will be able to offer a valuable perspective, and a friend who’s sailing in the same boat will remind you that you’ll both be able to swim to the shore together!

(Author: Samreen Chhabra works as a Senior Research Fellow at Jindal Institute of Behavioural Sciences)