Exam Stress: Examinations and marks are not proof of intelligence

Indore: While most parents feel that stress is normal consequence of examination, pressure to study can lead to numerous psychological disorders among adults.

Some of the commonly found disorders in adults who were pressured for marks or faced excessive competitive spirit in childhood include depression, anxiety disorders, alcohol and substance abuse, lying, eating disorders, recklessness, emptiness, self-doubt and self-reproach, cutting, and suicidal tendencies.

Talking about his tendency to lie, student Safwan Hussian shared, “I do not see a way out, why would I tell anyone the truth, when all does it… put me in trouble.” He does not think twice about lying anymore, but definitely think hundred times before telling anyone the truth.

“As a child, my parents were never satisfied with my results and pressurised me to study 24×7,” Hussian said. He feels uncomfortable with his performance, irrelevant of how much he works hard.

Discussing her experience, homemaker Anjali Khatri said, “I was never a topper in my school, so I did not care about my children becoming at a topper, but yes, I wanted them to learn.” She would always concentrate on understanding instead of scoring marks.

“My job was to relieve them from stress of examination, but my colleagues and relatives pressured their children a lot,” Anjali said. She explained that the stress and pressure to achieve marks often resulted in depressed children during examination.

“As their children grew up, they were not smart, a hated studying, lying is natural and are always in self-doubt,” Anjali said. Explaining why she did not bother about results, she explained that her mother worried too much. “I had learned from experience that marks and education are not signs of intelligence, one must just learn continuously throughout life,” she added.

Stress management for best performance

Little stress is good. It is called as eustress as it is must for fight or flight reaction. It motivates and prepares mind for challenges but long term stress or too much stress have negative consequences on body. It decreases immunity, increases palpitations and blood pressure. Too much alertness results in insomnia and bad memory and poor concentration.

Causes of stress in students

  • Performance anxiety
  • Anticipation of failure
  • Too much expectation from family
  • Fear of failure
  • Obsession about excellence

Stress cycle called as general adaptation syndrome has three phases:

  1. a) Alarm reaction b) Resistance phase c) Exhaustion

A person finally lands up in anxiety, disorder or depression after the stage of exhaustion. Parents need to ensure that they take care of their children in initial stages by explaining them that exams do not define life.

Do not change lifestyle, use tricks

While most parents feel that changing lifestyle of students during the examination is necessary and the correct way to ensure good marks, it often results in stressing children. I think kids should follow a normal time table which involves a holistic schedule. I think they are stressed because they change their lifestyle when preparing for boards. The process they follow should not be on a single track, it should involve everything.

  • n We store information more securely when we write it out by hand than when we type it, so you must try to write. Start by recopying the most important notes from the semester onto a new sheet of paper.
  • n Reading information out loud means mentally storing it in two ways: seeing it and hearing it.
  • n Treat yourself with a healthy holiday cookie, a walk around the block, five minutes on Twitter -whatever floats your boat.
  • n Say Om. Just before staring at a piece of paper for three hours, stare at a wall for three minutes. Such simple meditation techniques help in improving concentration.
  • n Work out your stress through exercise and not just overeating.
  • n Dance to the music, do everything you need to relieve stress.

Exams an unfair way of assessing intelligence

“Exams were invented by the Chinese and the zero by the Indians. And students and mothers have been terrified ever since.

Examinations are an extremely unfair way of assessing intelligence and performance because paper setters are essentially testing what a child does not know, whereas the assessing should concentrate on what it does know

So we now have the Chinese, Indians and paper setters as the villains

However our youth can easily overcome these hurdles:

  • n For clear thinking, retention of knowledge and general calm try and do the following (and don’t get hassled if you can’t)
  • n Sleep for 7-8 hours
  • n Sleep in a room with a temperature of 22 D C
  • n Avoid (for at least a month before exams) toxins which slow down your brain: coke, crisps and junk food like samosas and burgers. Eat healthy
  • n Exercise for an hour and release toxins through sweat
  • n Prepare bullet point revision cards as these are easier to recall
  • n Remember it’s only an exam. How you do is less important than the love of your family and friends.”

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