“The Month of Torture” – Exam Anxiety

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I was considered very lucky by my classmates as my birthday fell in the month of April, the month where all students were at their happiest as exams were over and vacations would begin.

“The Month of Torture” – Exam Anxiety

My classmates considered me very lucky as my birthday fell in the month of April, the month when all students were at their happiest as exams were over and vacations would begin. In contrast, March was considered “The month of Torture” as students all over India would have sleepless nights, panic attacks and no nails left to bite. Furthermore, the month was considered “Vital” to those writing their Boards as it defined their future. The overbearing pressure from parents, teachers and society put an immense amount of stress on these students leading to a condition called “Exam Anxiety”.

A certain level of anxiety while writing an exam is a normal human response as it serves as a criterion to move to the next level. At the same time, exam anxiety is when this fear is intense, prolonged and impedes one’s performance.

Dr.Varsha Viswanathan,
Consultant – Psychiatry


Some degree of suspicion is helpful as it motivates us to do better, but it has a negative impact when it becomes overbearing. This anxiety can be provoked by several factors, such as individual goals, innate need for perfectionism, high expectations by parents/teachers and the connectivity of the world as results these days are shared online.

Anxiety presents symptoms such as palpitations, tremors, increased sweat, nausea, shortness of breath, dizziness, cold extremities, and an urge to use the washroom. Exam anxiety also leads to other symptoms such as reduced concentration, easy distractibility, racing irrational thoughts, comparison with other students and fear of failure.

Following are a few ways in which Exam anxiety can be addressed:

  1. Keeping goals/targets, these goals need to be reviewed and changed timely.
  2. Adequate planning and time management are essential, for which a comfortable timed routine must be implemented.
  3. For students who find time management challenging, timed study pods (2-hour study pods) derived from the “POMODORO technique” can be used, where distraction-less study sessions coupled with timed short breaks keep the student on track.
  4. Another Gen Z technique that has become famous is the use of “Study With Me” sessions online, where students can use the help of virtual companions to do a study session with minimal distractions.
  5. Always have a “Plan B”; when things don’t go your way, you must be able to change the routine and still move on to achieve your goals.
  6. Deep breathing, yoga and other relaxation techniques can help reduce the symptoms of anxiety
  7. Seek professional help – school counsellors, psychologists and psychiatrists would be able to assess the child and help address issues such as learning disabilities which might go unnoticed.
  8. Short doses of medications can help overcome excruciating fears and improve performance
  9. Lastly, maintaining good health includes adequate 8 hours of sleep, good nutrition and sufficient breaks for recreation.

So students that will appear for their exams in the coming days do remember that Exams are just a measure of your ability to learn the curriculum and do not measure your future. Do your part, study efficiently and all the very best!

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