The Class X and the Class XII Board Exams are round the corner for 2013. Every time I come across a student preparing for these exams, I only hear stories of anxiety leading to inability to sleep, eat or study at the same time. Few years back, I met a girl who used to excel upto Class IX. The first month she started her Class X session, she was very scared to think that she will be appearing the board exams. She couldn’t even spend half an hour of study time and had severe headaches. Ultimately, she couldn’t continue and she was taken to Guwahati to be treated by a psychiatrist. She lost a year of her precious career. Examination anxiety is quite common in every phase of a student life. What matters most is how to handle this anxiety well so that you do not succumb to it. What causes such fear and anxiety at the first place? Is it the Fear of Failure? Is it the fear not making to the top 10 or sometimes even top 3? Or is it just that the pressure or expectations from your parents, peers or the school is so high that you feel you will not be able meet those expectations?
Pressure from parents could be very high at times. They can continuously remind you of goals which you may not be able to achieve. They may even announce it to other family members or even in their friend circles. Comparison of children amongst parents is quite common in our society as you are aware. Principal and teachers expecting you to be one of the top 10 based on your school exam records builds additional pressure. Rather than adding confidence, these expectations lead to fear of not making it and thereby the fear of letting them down. Peer pressure and social pressure which is quite common in every field also applies in this case. The fear that your friends can score higher than you or the fear that the society will look down on you since your results are poor can sometimes lead to mental trauma. And besides all these pressures, you have pressures which comes out of your own self. Your goal(s) and dream(s) in life and your fear of not achieving it. You fear that you are not coping up with your own routine which you made sometime back. All these pressures lead to one just thing – Exam Fever.
Following are few tips which can help you tackle exam fever during the next few months.
1. No last minute change in plan: There are many different methods of reading techniques. Each student follows a different pattern, schedule and steps of memorizing. This is not the time to change your plan drastically or follow a new plan that you found out from some source. No new plan is going to work at this point. If you like burning the midnight oil and you are not an early riser, so be it. You should never try to change the schedule. You should never try to alter your Math or Physics formulae chart. Also, do not try to start using a new guide or reference a friend’s notes which is hard to follow. Stick to your plan, stick to your notes and be confident of yourself. Your strategy that work for the pre-board will work indeed.
2. Tuition/Coaching Class: At this stage no amount of tuition or coaching classes or additional explanation from a private tutor is going to matter. You should no longer be in a learning mode. You should be in the revision mode and above all you should be practicing those sections which you want to fully master and commit zero errors. If you have already decided not to touch one chapter, this is not the time to open that chapter. Focusing on the subjects and the areas you are confident of is the simple trick to score all the good marks which will boost your overall percentage.
3. Personal Health: Health is of prime importance during this stage. The winter is cold and if you know that taking bath with cold water can give you that mild headache or fever, you should not. Few hours or days lost due to sickness is going to cost you a lot. Eat light, sleep well and above all do some mild exercise which can relax your muscles. Leisure walking for few hundred meters can help relax your body which generally gets stressed out due to sitting in one position. However avoid any physically activity that can make you feel so exhausted that you have no energy left for your study time.
4. Hobbies: Listen to music, any form of music you like. It can provide that relaxation after several hours of reading. If you like gardening, you should do it for few minutes in the morning or evening. Painting also is a soother but you should not start something which can take several hours or days. Avoid activities that can over stimulate your mind like playing chess or reading novels. Also, never indulge into leisure talking or gossiping for long hours which will lead to distraction.
Well those tips are only to control your exam fever. What about the overall anxiety? How do you tackle that? To an extent if you bring down your exam fever, you will be able to release your mental tension to a large extent which will bring down your anxiety levels. Let’s try to look at the bigger picture. What if you fail in the board exam or what if you do not make it to the top 10? You prepared well, you did your best but you just didn’t make it. If you fail, you lose one year. And if you do not make it to the top 10, you face your teachers and parents in a different way. I am not trying to tell you that you should relax or chill out and stop putting those additional hours. 8-10 hours a day or maybe more is quite common during this time when the exam is just few months away. Even though your board exam results are not so good, you will still be able to pursue your graduation in a good university. You still have the chance to crack the AIEEE or the Medical Entrance Exam. Look beyond these board exams. If you pursue the career you desire wholeheartedly, you will definitely succeed and I am sure you will one day make your parents, teachers and above all your elders in your society proud. You will not live a life in frustration thinking that you have failed due to anxiety because you succumb to the many pressures mentioned above. Give your best shot in every exam you face starting the board exams. Set the bar high, but not so high that you can never achieve it. It is very important to know your limits.
All the very best for your upcoming exams. Cheers!!
The author is a career counselor. With more than 13 years of corporate industry exposure, he has been engaged with student mentorship at MIMS, Manipur University. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org (Published in The Sangai Express Sunday edition 3-Feb-13.)