Beat the Stress

Exams are just round the corner and all you students out there must be preparing hard. It’s the time of the year when a flurry of activity happens: Reading textbooks, answering the questions asked in the workbooks and textbooks, solving questions papers, discussing with teachers, parents and friends to get a better understanding of some topic and well…. the list goes on.

All this and the importance of exams in one’s academic life tend to make us feel tense and apprehensive before our approaching exams as well as during them. Some level of stress in fact is good and that makes us prepare thoroughly and do well in the exams. But when this tension goes out of hands it can create a big problem for the student. An excess of it can paralyze the student with fear and drastically hit one’s marks.

There can be various reasons to why at times exam anxiety can go out of hands.

Causes of exam anxiety:

  • Fear of failure: The commonest cause is the fear of failure. The fact of the matter is that each one of us at some level dreads failure and all that comes along with it.
  • Fear of the unknown: Anxiety arises because we don’t know what to expect and students feel helpless. The best way to remedy this is to have mock sessions or replicate the exam by solving previous exam papers. Try to create the exam room ambience as far as possible to aid the replication. Set yourself time and see that you finish the paper.
  • Negative self-talk: Negative self-talk can aggravate test anxiety. Self Talk is the continuous silent messages that we keep giving ourselves. Research has proven that the self-talk of test-anxious students almost always tends to be negative and self-defeating. Try writing your negative thoughts and then disputing each one with a positive statement. Start to encourage yourself as you would a friend. Repeating your positive statements to yourself will help reprogram your mind for success instead of failure.
  • Blanking out after seeing the question paper: Relax!!! Read the question you think you know slowly and carefully. Plan your answers. Spend 5 minutes on a plan and rough notes which will help your answer to flow.  Ignore everyone else who appears to be writing furiously and try drawing a spider diagram or a flow chart. You will suddenly see your thoughts and information getting organized. You will also find that the flowchart will help you generate links.

Some techniques to combat exam anxiety:

  • Imagine the worst: When you are having spells of intense anxiety, sit down and calmly think what is the worst that will happen. If you have prepared well you will immediately get your answer that it can’t be worse than a ‘B’ grade. Worst comes to worse you would get a ‘C’ grade. How bad is that really?
  • Visualization: Days ahead of the exam start visualizing the entire exam scenario, down to its minutest details. Visualize right from getting up in the morning to handing the paper over after you have finished. This method helps in making you feel that you have been there and have done it, thus reducing the fear of the unknown. Consequently, visualize yourself doing well and achieving your goals.
  • Pen it down: One way of combating anxiety is to write down all the factors that are making you anxious. By doing so, you will find things are falling into perspective and will also help segregate real cause of anxiety from the imaginary ones. Once you know the concrete cause of your worry, you can chart a plan to combat them.
  • The emergency stop: For anxiety that paralyses use this relaxation technique. As you begin to feel tense, say loudly to yourself, ‘STOP!’ clench your teeth and jaw, hold for a count of five, and relax for a count of five. Repeat the same thing with your eyes, forehead, neck and shoulders. Finish with your hands and arms and see the difference – the relaxation technique will work wonders when you have tried it before and accustomed yourself to it.

In the end just remember:

Beat the anxiety and the stress
It will only create trouble and an unnecessary mess
If you want to succeed, then tension you should relieve
Tell yourself that I can and in myself I BELIEVE

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