The Pre-exam State Of Mind

Author: Fatima Lobo (Clinical Psychologist)

More often than not a day before a candidate appears for an exam involves renal-biting over-learning, nail-biting, fidgeting, clammy hands, and so on. The blend of all such emotions and actions equals the stress an individual experiences before exams. Examination stress is often referred to as the worry and nervousness that an individual appearing for an exam goes through. Students are posed with the issue of examination stress throughout their academic life and they eventually learn to deal with it. When a person succumbs to such pressure it leads to anxiety. There are various causes of examination stress some of which are internal or external pressures, a lifestyle that includes lack of planning and inadequate sleep, study, habits, health, food habits, etc. All that other factors in some way or the other contribute to the functioning of an individual's mind before and during exams. External pressures are exerted by immediate family, relationships, and friends while internal pressures are the pressures within an individual. Examination stress is also understood to be a byproduct of a lack of preparation. Stress experienced is attributed to the fear of failure and can negatively influence the self-esteem of the student. Cognitive effects such as difficulties in memory and recalling information are observed due to it. Examination stress is subjective in nature. It differs from person to person. The intensity of stress with respect to exams varies due to factors like lifestyle, genetics, family life, etc. we find people facing higher levels of examination stress when they have a problematic personal life whereas on the other hand people who are somewhat balanced face lower levels of stress. When it comes to examination stress the factors that are not very important are age, gender, intelligence, physical attractiveness, and money whilethose somewhat important are social life, religion, and culture. The factors extremely important for avoiding examination stress are love, family, and relationship satisfaction. Different body types react differently to all the factors mentioned and hence stress levels can keep fluctuating throughout the course of ups and downs in life. Examination stress is the part and parcel of the educational period and life in general. One has to go through many exams in the form of obstacles, problems, and losses but to come out of it in a way that only enriches one's life is of utmost importance. The higher indication of stress denotes the greater impact of the particular challenge (exam in our context) on life.

According to psychologists, experiencing a certain level of anxiety and stress before exams is absolutely normal. In fact, it somewhere pushes the individual to perform the task best to one's capability and well before the deadline. The situation gets out of hand when such stress is not channelized the way it's supposed to be and leads to the downfall of the respective individual. The most effective way of managing examination stress is through the lens of learned optimism. Learned optimism is fostering positive behavior in the face of negative circumstances. Following this idea researchers, Heather Lench and Zari Carpenter discovered the relation between optimism and efforts with respect to an approaching exam wherein they found out that a greater positive approach two weeks before the exam predicted longer study hours, higher overall satisfaction with the quality of learning, andbetter exam performance. When students lower their expectations the day before an exam, they study less and get lower grades. Examinations form a critical part of a student's life. They provide the individual with a self-assessment function through which an individual gets a better understanding of the potential residing within. Hence they are bound to be significant and examination stress acts as a proof for such arguments. Inculcating good habits, positive thoughts, exercises, effective relaxation, techniques, adequate sleep, and talking to someone are some hand full ways to reduce examination stress

The objective of exams is just to add to an individual's personal growth and not hamper it. Thus exams must be treated as tools or measures to assimilate the knowledge grasped through academics and not as speed breakers along the path of accomplishment. There is no formula based to tackle examination stress but undoubtedly there exist ways in which one can channel stress in bringing out positive outcomes. Some of the commonly suggested ways to tackle moderate examination stress are listening to music, talking to a role model that is someone you look up to, meditation and consistency with exercise. Stress is partly imposed by the brain hence it is often all in one's head whether or not the external situation is potentially capable of bringing in worry or tension. Hence to fight examination stress it is required to have a strong head which in all dedication is focused towards the goal. One very important thing required is to have a clean and hygienic lifestyle which includes scheduled sleeping patterns, healthy food habits,etc. stress is mostly associated with things that are valuable or are expected to affect ones living in some form or other. Parental pressure and expectations lead to the multiplication of examination stress by many folds. It is often observed that students who have parents who coerce them into studying beyond their capacity end up with high levels of stress while students fortunate to have supportive parents are not really caught by such issues. Healthy family life, relations, and interactions shape one's ability to combat stress and problems in general. Examination stress is very similar to technological advancements in the sense that just like gadgets, more specifically mobile phones have good and bad examination stress also has its positive and negative effects. Just how a mobile phone used for constructive purposes can be of extreme help is similar to the case of stress. If treated appropriately it would fill in wonders in one's life. One should hold on to the thought that examination stress is just another problem with acceptable solutions available.