Exam stress is the most familiar issue. What is Exam Stress? It is a feeling of anxiety and pressure that comes from the test-taking situations. Experiencing stress for the upcoming examinations, tests, or presentations is considered quite normal. A small proportion of stress can indeed stimulate students to work even harder.
But for some individuals, this experience is problematic as it interferes with their ability to perform, affects academic focus and learning goals. The occurrence of such extreme distress and impaired performance in testing situations is known as a psychological condition called ‘’Exam Anxiety’’.
What causes Exam Stress?
There are many reasons that can cause exam anxiety. It can develop due to personal lifestyle issues, lack of knowledge, half-hearted commitment, or poor studying techniques. Moreover, several major factors are involved which contribute to the root cause of exams stress.
Many students feel pressured because of the high expectations layout by their parents and teachers. This consistent influence to do well and succeed in examination to avoid carping queries by family members heightens the anxiety level and frightens them for the future outcome.
Underlying major causes of anxiety consist of a variety of cognitive factors, one of them is student expectation. The fear of poor performance before appearing in exams makes them vulnerable to internal pressure leading to blank-mindedness during the test. This conjecture can become a perilous cycle for many. By continuously enduring exam stress, students may begin to feel that they have no audacity to switch the situation, a phenomenon known as learned helplessness.
Biologically, under a stressful situation, our body releases some chemical substances known as cortisol often called the ‘’stress hormone’’ and epinephrine normally referred to as the ‘’Adrenaline’’. These hormonal responses prepare the body to either stay and deal with the anxiety or escape the situation, collectively known as the fight-or-flight response. Although this Adrenaline rush is a beneficial factor to cope up with stress. However, the symptoms of anxiety exerted by the hormones are excessive for some individuals, making it difficult for them to focus on the test.
Lack of Preparation
Procrastination or voluntarily delaying learning for examination and rushed hours studying often results in lack of preparation which sweeps extreme nervousness and stress in student’s minds due to incomplete coverage of the study material.
Many students train themselves to gain an admission spot in elite institutes/colleges, whereas competition is tough to achieve academic success. Students perceive themselves to be in competition with others and this further leads to heighten their anxiety levels which potentially affects their grading points.
How to Cope up with Exam Stress
Identifying and knowing the core reasons for exam stress can particularly help to maintain the issues with a strategic approach.
Following good studying, habits can minimize exam anxiety and pressure. Explore the best learning style for yourself and take notes accordingly. Plan a schedule for study time and break topics into several sections to stay on track. Avoid cramming the study material and prepare in advance for the upcoming exams.
Proper Sleep Routine
An adequate amount of sleep can relieve stress levels in the body. It is recommended that following a regular and stable circadian rhythm lowers cortisol and improvises a healthy lifestyle.
Healthy Behaviors Engaging in healthy eating habits, avoiding junk foods, carbonated energy drinks, taking quality breaks in between study time, and regular physical exercise can buffer against the effects of stress conditions which altogether contribute to better health performance.
Overcome the Negative Thoughts Try to change your mind when doubts and negative vibes cloud your consciousness. Push them away and replace them with positivity, by appreciating self-strengths and qualities. Avoid the perfectionist trap. This will help to reduce the stress and boost the overall confidence.
Ask For Help
Every individual requires support at some point. Think about all the possible practical support needed for yourself. Try group study sessions. Share your concerns openly with the teacher, friend, or closest family member to assist you with helpful resources.
Reward yourself after the exam is done and dusted. Head to your favorite restaurant with family or take a day off from studying and relax. The reward gives you the break you deserve after all of your studying. Treating yourself also helps you stop thinking about the test and analyzing every little mistake you may have made.
Prioritize Mental Health
Child Mental Health should always be the utmost priority. If emotional and physical drainage is taking a drastic toll then, it is never too late to take a step for extra support from a counselor or a psychologist. Prolonged symptoms can be treated with Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT) which emphasizes helping people change both the behaviors and underlying thoughts that contribute to unwanted feelings.
Sadaf Ahmad is an Internee at STUDENTINN SOLUTIONS. She contributes as Content Intern.