Among most students, the term ‘exams’ is most dreaded. Most students fear exams, especially if they feel they had prepared inadequately for the exam. The fear pops out because the student doesn’t know what the exam may contain and how they should respond. Thus, panic and anxiety kick in when approaching the exam period, resulting in exam stress among the students.
Exam stress affects students in various ways, both psychologically and physically, affecting their academic performance. Therefore, it’s essential to come up with techniques to deal with exam stress. This article provides a comprehensive guide on dealing with exam stress.
What is Exam Stress?
Exams stress is a feeling of worry and tension resulting from an approaching test. Most students usually experience exam stress when approaching presentations, exams, assignments, and continuous assessment tests. However, contrary to what most people think, exam stress is normal to most students, as a healthy amount of stress or worry is essential to stimulate the students to work hard and prepare for the exams.
However, exam stress will become an issue if it gradually or suddenly impacts a student’s performance, psychological well-being, and academic or learning goals.
Symptoms of Stress
Exam stress is characterised by anxiety, being overwhelmed with the workload, and many physical symptoms like stomachpain, headache, irritable bowel syndrome etc. Exam stress manifests itself in different ways. The difference in the manifestation of the exam stress majorly depends on the student or individual. Furthermore, the symptoms can be different depending on the student. Some tend to take constant anxiety as they may have characteristics of being perfect in everything they do. However, most of the individuals present the following symptoms when they have exam stress:
● Feeling despair, anxious, and worrying most of the time.
● Getting irritated easily with things that don’t matter most.
● Either they’ll have a loss of appetite or increased appetite.
● Emotional breakdown or nervousness
● Having difficulties in going to sleep or waking up in the morning.
● Headaches or sudden migraines
● Social withdrawal
● Increased heart rates
● Feeling depressed or feeling low than usual.
● Having difficulty in concentrating on your studies or the activities you are doing.
Causes of Exam Stress
1. Emotional and physical pressure
Most experts consider exam stress as being stimulated by emotional and physical factors. The emotional triggers can usually be located in the amygdala of the brain. However, many students also show anxiety physically. For example, they are having a headache or having a stomachache and others. Any physical or emotional stress can cause fatigue and drain a student just before their exams.
2. External pressure
Many students may feel the pressure coming from external sources such as expectations from the parents or guardians. As children consider their caregivers to be gods, they want to please them. Being able to be true to their parents, caregivers, and teacher’s expectations may be a trigger to develop performance anxiety.
3. Internal pressure
Apart from the pressure from teachers and parents, the students themselves want to get good grades. Thus, the students will have a fear of performing poorly in the exams. The fear of poor performance will result in tension and anxiety.
4. Inadequate preparation
Perceived inadequate preparation is the leading cause of exam stress among students, as most students assume they have not prepared well for exams. Sometimes they have genuinely not prepared well because of poor studying habits, lack of enough time to read, referring to outdated sources are some of the causes of inadequate preparation. However, many times, students are unable to gauge if they are exam ready. Often, their belief, “This is not enough” or “I should have done more” adds the pressure and gives rise to exam anxiety.
Some exam stress may come as a result of poor lifestyle behaviours. For example, a student may fail to abide by a particular healthy routine like their sleep cycle or eating junk food most of the time. Thus, it affects the mental and physical well-being of the student. In addition, poor mental and psychological well-being increases stress and tension levels when approaching exams.
Techniques to Deal with Exam Stress
Excessive exam stress can have adverse effects on the psychological and academic performance of a student. Thus, it’ll be essential to deal with exam stress to prevent or minimise the adverse impact on the student. Below are some of the techniques on how to deal with exam stress:
1. Physical activities
During or when approaching an exam, it’ll be good for the student to practice meditation practices together with breathing techniques. This process will generally increase the student’s concentration during the exam period. However, before the exams, regular exercises such as walking, jogging, playing a sport, and many other will help the student manage the exam stress.
2. Keeping your study area clean
Keeping your study table clean from any unnecessary material will help manage your exam stress. Keep your study table clutter-free and arrange all the material you’ll need for your exams well. A clean study environment will enhance your thinking and improve your exam preparation and writing.
3. Setting goals
Before your exams, you’ll need to set goals to help you put all you need into perspective. However, when you’re setting your goals, ensure that you’ve set realistic goals. These should be goals that you can easily achieve without causing yourself a lot of stress.
4. Have adequate sleep or rest
It’ll be good to maintain your resting or sleeping pattern when approaching or during the exam period. To improve your concentration and exam results, early to sleep and waking up very early should be your guiding principle. You shouldn’t study the whole before the exam day; this can cause problems for your health.
5. Mental stability
Students can get more distracted by watching movies and going for a hike when preparing for exams. However, to prevent any further exam stress, it’ll be good for the student to concentrate on preparing for the exam thoroughly.
6. Reduce the usage of phones
Researchers have found that mobile phones can be big distractors and stress triggers among students. In addition, phones affect the preparation for exams and the mental health of the student. Thus, it’ll be good for the student to either keep the phone off or use it after preparing for exams.
7. Seek help if needed: If you are struggling to cope with stress, reach out to a counselor or a trusted friend for support. Don’t hesitate to ask for help if you need it. Read more on our blog –Importance Of Mental Health For Students.
Exams stress is common among most students when approaching the exams. It may affect both the physical and psychological well-being of the student. Exams stress is mainly characterised by various physical, mental, and emotional symptoms such as losing appetite, anxiety, and depression. It’ll be good to follow the techniques to help cope with the stress, as severe exam stress won’t be good for your health and may result in poor performance.
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