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Say Goodbye To Exam Phobia!

Dr. Mansi Arya 86% (38 ratings)
BHMS, C.S.D.(Skin Diseases), M.D.(Medicine), M.Sc. in Counselling and Psychotherapy
Homeopath, Delhi  •  11 years experience
Say Goodbye To Exam Phobia!

"I have a severe stomach ache, I feel like vomiting ... Mom, please!! I can't go for exam." 
"I read it! I knew it all ... But I just blacked out." 
"I just couldn't write! My hands were trembling." 
"I messed up this question! I can do nothing right... I can never succeed in life!!" 

It's not uncommon for students to experience such problems before/ during an exam.

Most of us suffer from some degree of anxiety when we prepare or sit for an examination. Examination usually leads to a lot of tension and anxiety commonly known as examination phobia. Examination phobia or Examophobia is a mental disorder found in most of the students. When exams arrive, students become extremely worried and make plans about how to study, how to perform better and get good grades. Some students find exams so difficult that the phobia makes them sick as they simply find themselves unable to cope up with the exam fear. There may be sweating, palpitations that disturb so much that one cannot think straight and end up messing up the paper. Also, in subsequent exams, it becomes worse and the fear intensifies. The person may end up feeling a failure, feeling guilty and may even be suicidal! 

Anxiety is a normal human feeling that is part of life and can often serve as a good form of adrenaline. However, in few people, this adrenaline rush exceeds normal limits and at times may lead to some negative consequences.

Exam anxiety is:

1. Excessive worry about upcoming exams 
2. Fear of being evaluated 
3. Apprehension about the consequence 
4. Experienced by many normal students

POSSIBLE CAUSES 
(I) Environmental Causes

1. High expectations of parents 
2. Parents imposing their ambitions on children 
3. Parents competing for higher social status through child's scores 
4. Constant comparison with other kids 
5. Fear of teachers 
6. Insulting remarks from teachers

(II) Poor studying styles: 
1. Inefficient:

1. Irregular coverage of the entire syllabus 
2. Trying to memorize the course book 
3. Binge learning 
4. Studying all-night right before exams

2. Ineffective:

1. Reading without understanding the topic 
2. Unable to recollect the material 
3. Not making revision notes 
4. Not revising

(III) Psychological factors:

1. Feeling little or no control over the exam situation (rather than knowing and applying exam strategies) 
2. Negative thinking and self-criticism 
3. Irrational thinking about exams and outcomes 
4. Irrational beliefs "If I don't pass, my (family/boyfriend/girlfriend/friends) will lose respect for me" 
5. Irrational demands "I have to get at least 98% or I am worthless." 
6. Catastrophic predictions "I'll fail no matter what I do—there’s no point." 
7. Low Self-esteem 
8. Fear of failure

SYMPTOMS OF EXAM ANXIETY 
The symptoms can range from minor nervousness to a panic attack, which can ruin the test. But whatever the level of your anxiety, learning to keep yourself calm and managing the fear of sitting for an examination is what it takes to come out with flying colors.

1. Physical symptoms. Headache, nausea, diarrhea, excessive sweating, shortness of breath, rapid heartbeat, lightheadedness and feeling faint can all occur. Test anxiety can lead to a panic attack, which is the abrupt onset of intense fear or discomfort in which individuals may feel like they are unable to breathe or having a heart attack
2. Emotional symptoms. Feelings of anger, fear, helplessness and disappointment are common emotional responses to test anxiety. 
3. Behavioral/Cognitive symptoms. Difficulty concentrating, thinking negatively and comparing yourself to others are common symptoms of test anxiety.

HOW TO PREPARE WELL FOR AN EXAMINATION 
Fortunately, there are several methods that you can adopt to reduce your examination stress, which will not only help you to get higher grades but also improve your overall mental health.

1. Regular Studies Develop good study habits- ATTEND classes regularly, finish all the assignments on time, make notes properly and be an actively engaging student in school. Leave plenty of time to revise so that you don't have to do last minute cramming. Giving yourself adequate time will help to boost your confidence and reduce any pre-exam stress as you know you have prepared well. Instead of waiting for the eleventh hour, start studying as and when the academic year commences. With a good amount of time before hand, you will certainly feel more relaxed as you have plenty of time to give-in your best. 
2. Exercise Matters - It is of paramount importance to maintain mental, psychological and physical health to ace any exam. Exercising regularly, deep breathing and ‘pranayama’ help in improving one’s cognitive faculties, that results in lesser anxiety and simultaneously better grades in the tests. 
3. Don’t Undermine the Importance of Diet - Be careful about your diet during the exams. A diet lacking in essential nutrients can put a major dent in your preparations; make you feel nauseated, SLEEPY OR overstressed during the crucial hours. 
4. SLEEP WELL - Adequate sleep is also vital. SLEEPING TOO LESS OR TOO MUCH CAN ALSO HAMPER YOUR ABILITIES 
5. Support - Take short breaks in between and spend some quality time with your family; share your feelings and state of mind with them. Spending time with the family can turn out to be a major stress buster. 
6. Set a Study Time: Lastly, drawing up a schedule will help you make the most of your study time. Set aside a time for your studies and follow it meticulously. Keep it flexible so that you can make the necessary adjustments. 
7. Stay focused: Concentrate on your studies, not others during the examination time. Avoid talking with other students about the subject before an examination. 
8. Use Mnemonics: Mnemonics are the techniques of memorization. You can make chart, rhymes or phrase to memorize your lessons. 
9. Practice Deep Breathing Regularly - Meditation is one of the best medicine that can reduce your anxiety. Make a habit to Meditate at least 10 minutes per day. It surely increases your concentration power. 
10. Consult Psychologist: If your anxiety becomes uncontrollable, don’t hesitate to consult a psychologist or therapist. CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy) is pretty effective in treating anxiety disorders. It helps to change your thought process and negative beliefs. Performance or test anxiety is highly treatable so you can get absolutely get a better result.

HOW TO ATTEMPT THE EXAMINATION IN BEST POSSIBLE WAY 
(I) ON THE DAY OF EXAM

1. Get a restful, uninterrupted sleep the night before so you wake up refreshed and revitalized the day of the exam. 
2. Have a healthy breakfast but strictly avoid oily and heavy food 
3. Recheck your required stuff (pen, pencil, compass box, eraser, admit card, watch etc) before leaving home. 
4. Take the water bottle along with you to the examination hall. 
5. Avoid touching new/left-out topic at the last moment. 
6. Aim to reach the examination hall well in time. 
7. Avoid being part of Before-exam peer discussions on How well-prepared or unprepared others are! The classic "Tera kitna ho gaya" question followed by undue comparisons can be a complete confidence killer. So Beware !! 
8. If feeling tensed, take deep-long breaths and engage in positive self-talk; reminding yourself that you prepared best to your ability and tell oneself " I CAN DO IT "

(II) IN THE EXAMINATION HALL

  1. First of all, fill the required information on the answer sheet. 
  2. Read the instructions carefully to figure out if you have a choice of questions, no. of questions to be attempted etc. 
  3. Read the question paper thoroughly before u begin writing and mark the questions under 3 categories: (a) Easy (b) Manageable (c) Difficult 
  4. Manage your time: This is where you strictly need to stick to the plan:
    1. Before you begin, allocate time for each question based on the marks it carries and difficulty level. 
    2. If you are not able to complete an answer within planned time-frame, leave some space and move onto the next question. 
    3. Always divide time in such a way that you are left with some time at the end to go back over incomplete answers and revise/recheck. 
    4. Always try to attempt all the questions. 
    5. Attempt the Easy questions first, followed by Manageable and Difficult questions at last. That way you stay secure, calm and confident. 
    6. Avoid writing too lengthy answer just because you know it well.

5. Presentation:

a. Handwriting should be neat & readable. 
b. Instead of very long paragraphs, put your answer point-wise. 
c. Wherever possible, illustrate the information via Flowcharts/diagrams etc. 
d. Highlight: underline or highlight the main points using pencil / coloured markers but you should keep it for last spare moments.

(III) TIPS FOR PARENTS: 
Encourage your kids! Parents have the ability to address underlying fears that may be present with test-taking. At a deep level, even subconsciously, a student may fear failure for a variety of reasons. There could be a fear of looking dumb to friends, of not getting into the best school, or of not meeting parent’s expectations. A great help is for parents to reinforce their unconditional support and encouragement to the child. Parents, let your children know that their grade does not determine their worth. Believe in your child. 

Help them get over the myth that "Success in exam is a predictor of success in life". 

Good marks = Great job. 
Poor marks = End of life!!

In short, "There are no secrets to success. It is the result of Time Management, Hard work and Learning from mistakes"

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