Board examinations & beyond: Overcoming pressure and stress

In each board exam season, so many students encounter immense pressure and obstacles, which can be daunting for their future. Psychologist Dr Binda Singh offers advice on how to tackle these challenges head on...

Every year, lakhs of students sit for their board and other important examinations typically held between the months of February and March. These exams include CBSE, state boards, IIT, NEET, AIIMS and many others. According to the CBSE, this year saw around 21,86,940 and 16,96,770 students appearing for Class X and Class XII board examinations, respectively. As the students focus on their annual examinations, their guardians also become concerned with their future. Following the completion of Class XII, the students will sit for other competitive examinations, which will determine their futures. Around this time, a lot of cases of students struggling with pressures of examination come to fore. It is important to note, however, that success in these exams does not guarantee success in life, and not performing well in them does not equate to failure. Each individual has unique talents and skills that can be honed and applied to find success and happiness in life.

The quest for success: Insights into the student perspective

This year, Rishi sat for his Class X board examination. He opened up about his experience, saying, “I feel a tremendous amount of pressure of examination because it seems like I’ve forgotten everything I’ve studied. The pre-board exams at school gave me some confidence. However, the board exams are a completely different experience. Additionally, my elder sister did very well in her board exam. And that has raised the expectations for me and added even more pressure.”

Shristi, who appeared for the Class XII board examination this year, said, “My subjects are mathematics, physics and chemistry. I will sit for the IIT examination next. However, there is a significant difference between their syllabi and overall level, which makes me worried because I have to excel in both. To make matter worse, people around me keep asking about my upcoming exams, and that seems to add even more pressure.”

The experiences of Rishi and Shrishti demonstrate that pressure of the examination not only affects their mental state but can also have a significant impact on their performance. It is evident that the pressure to succeed is present not just within themselves, but also around them. However, by handling this issue with empathy and wisdom, the possibility of performing well in the exams increases.

Managing examination pressure: Practical tips for students and guardians

According to clinical psychologist Dr Binda Singh, it is not only the students but also their guardians who need to modify their daily routine as soon as the notification for board examination is released.

Balancing screen time:

Amidst the Covid-19 pandemic, education shifted to online platforms. As a result, students began studying virtually. They also started spending more time on other social media applications, increasing their overall screen time. When studies became online during Covid-19, the students not only studied online but also their screen time on other social media apps also increased. Guardians should designate a specific time for smartphone usage at home. They should also avoid using televisions and other electronic gadgets while students are studying for exams to minimise distractions.

Improving writing skills:

Due to the pandemic, students’ writing habits suffered, which in turn, affected their writing proficiency and speed. As board examinations heavily rely on written responses, it is crucial for students to prioritise consistent writing practice.

Embracing individuality: Avoiding comparisons

Often, guardians are found comparing their children with others in terms of grades. It can negatively impact the child’s self-confidence. It is important to acknowledge that each child has unique abilities. Instead of comparing them, guardians should focus on nurturing their child’s strengths and weaknesses. This can help the child develop a positive mindset and achieve academic success based on their own potential.

Fueling the brain: Healthy diet during exams

It is also important to take care of the food that the students eat during their examination. To remain physically fit is key as that would keep them fresh mentally as well.

Study plans

It is handy to have a study plan in hand before and during the examinations. The students should have good sleep and take regular breaks during studying.

The power of positive thinking

Positivity is also important. The examinees should feel relaxed in the examination hall, thinking about good results and some happy memories that would motivate themselves.

Identifying triggers of stress and anxiety

Recognising the factors that trigger pressure, restlessness and other troubling thoughts is crucial for students especially around their examination. They should speak to close friends, guardians and teachers about their troubles.

Understanding your child’s interests

It is crucial for guardians to communicate with their children and discover their passions, whether it’s music, dance, or other creative pursuits. Nowadays, there are more possibilities for exploration, and it is not fair to limit a child’s interest.

Nurturing a positive mindset in children

Dr Singh shared that many guardians come to her with their children, admitting that they have not studied enough before the examination. Some parents report that their children fell ill or were unable to write anything due to fear during the exam, resulting in failure. While some parents prioritise their children’s health over academic performance, it is important to recognise that if a child cannot handle pressure of examination, it can affect their future performance in exams and career paths. Therefore, it is crucial to take a balanced approach to raising their children, fostering modesty, strong self-belief, and a friendly relationship. Raising children is like nurturing sensitive plants that will grow into a big tree in the future.

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