Bengaluru: Reading a book is different from reading up on a textbook for an exam. The effect it has on the mind is quite contrary, one might say. Here’s what students and parents need to keep in mind to cope with exam stress.

According to Dr H Chandrashekar, HoD, Department of Psychiatry, Bangalore Medical College and Research Institute, the term ‘Exam Stress' can be defined as a feeling of anxiety and fear over one's performance in exams and the expectations of parents and friends.

“Firstly, one must be aware of the physical signs of stress, like rapid heart rate, shortness of breath, abnormal perspiration, insomnia, nausea along with behavioural signs like restlessness, avoidance, impatience, anger, spells of crying, fear, irritability, frustration, poor concentration and blanking out. These signs need to be taken seriously and addressed, as its impact can be detrimental to the physical and mental health of a student," said Chandrashekar who gives us his words of advice to students and parents.

Dr Chandrashekar says, one can avoid exam stress if one can point out what causes it:

-Unorganized and/or incomplete notes from the course

-Not having asked questions and not making an attempt to understand when taught

-Inefficient time management

-Not studying in smaller portions every day/periodically

-Not prioritising and working out a schedule for studying

-Last minute studying


But all hope is not lost, there are always means to cope. The key to handling exam stress is to understand the process. One needs to keep in mind that stressing out reduces mental capabilities and is counter-productive. One needs to believe in their abilities.

“No matter how pressed you are for time, a little relaxation will help the conscious and subconscious parts of your brain interact better, reducing the risk that you will freeze up or make a mistake,” says Chandrashekar

 

To spell it out, here’s what one can do to cope:


-Develop a timetable to monitor your progress with realistic targets

-Take short breaks

-Take time out to spend few moments with people who have a positive effect

-Avoid distractions during the focused scheduled time

-Make sure you study at a time and in a place where you are most productive

-Practice relaxation exercises

-Listen to music, read a book or go for a walk to get your mind off the stress for a while

 


The don’ts:


-Don’t leave revision to the last minute

-Don’t avoid studying subjects you don’t like or find difficult

-Don’t forget that though the focus is on exams, there is life beyond it.

-Don’t stay up all night before an exam as rest is key to a active mind

-Don’t revise all the time and make sure you take adequate breaks

 


Dealing with stress on the day of the exam:


-Have moderate breakfast or lunch

-Make sure you do something relaxing an hour before the exam

-Keep yourself in good company and avoid fellow students who may increase your anxiety levels.

-Have a plan for how you will use your time in the exam hall.

-Listen carefully to oral instructions and Read the instructions very carefully.

-Plan your time effectively and choose the order in which you will answer questions

 

Advise for Parents


-Always be positive and encourage the child.

-Do not criticise the child as it could have a negative impact

-Provide a conducive environment for your child to study


"Exams are important but they are not the only key to a successful future for the students.  No need to compare your child with others. And remember, that there is life beyond exam results," concluded Dr Chandrashekar.