Twisting and turning around my bed, I tried recalling the syllabus, it was a night before my 9th-grade finals. I had been studying since a month ago, but trust me, that one-month study is nothing as compared to what you do during the last week *cheeky smirk*. It wasn’t anything new for me as I have been giving them since the fourth grade and I think that this does give me some amount of credibility to share my experience of exam pressure with you.
It is normal for any student to feel anxious, stressed and pressurized. But when these factors start overtaking your confidence and health, it’s definitely something to worry about. Over the years, I have come across cousins and friends who have fainted, puked and shivered a night before our common enemy’s exam, Mathematics. Even I hated Math till the 8th grade. It has made me cry, loathe myself, loathe my tutors but then something changed and what changed my perspective about this enemy-turned-friend was my 8th-grade final exam, of Math, of course. I remember I had lots of relatives coming over during my Math exam’s prep leaves so in order to not fail, I tried something new and formulated a REALLY fun study plan. I had all the fun in the world. By fun I mean watching TV, spending time with family, spending time on my phone (which I love to do, by the way). But when I sat down to study, I left all of this. All I had were my books and a lot of determination. I continued this process throughout the prep leaves. After giving my exam, which was absolutely stunning, I thought of how I made myself concentrate so much. I realized that if I did not deprive myself of all the things I usually do, I wouldn’t feel the urge to spend my time on them while studying. And hence, I was focused.
Believe me, this works like MAGIC. But even more important is to shoo away your fear. Fear of not doing well, fear of being left behind, fear of not doing better than your friends (or Sharma Ji’s son). Just let go and give it your best shot. My parents have never pressurized me and have always been very supportive, but deep down, they do have expectations, every parent does, and I would love to fulfill them. But you know what, these expectations can come out in different ways. Without them realizing, they might end up putting a LOT of burden on their child’s shoulders. This is where stress management comes in the picture.YOU guys have to ignore all of this and just focus on your study plan and your goals. There is always going to be someone in your class, colony, college or workplace, who is doing a lot better than you. But they may lack something that you are excellent at. So basically, you just have to embrace your own path.
Come on, even Amitabh Bachchan was rejected after his first audition. What would happen if he had given up? Would we be celebrating each Holi with his evergreen songs? (haha). And imagine if he were to switch places with Sachin Tendulkar! Would Sachin Tendulkar be able to give 40 blockbuster films? On the other hand, would Amitabh Bachchan be able to hit centuries after centuries in all the matches he played? No, right? This is because everyone is special and good at something that the other person might be very bad at. But what makes such people stand out is their plans to make it happen, just like a student must always have a large spoon of study plan and a pinch of focus to prepare the delicious dish of dealing with exam pressure.
Yes I know, that the sound of ruffling papers and a 4-pages-long question paper can get to you, it would pressurize ANY student and that’s completely normal. Even my throat dries up when the teacher distributes the papers and gives her last few encouraging (not so encouraging at times) words; this is when your skills of stress management must kick in. If you know that you have done your best and you have confidence in yourself, you are good to go!
These long inspirational thoughts that I just ranted right now have been perfectly quoted by Van Wilder as:
“Worrying is like a rocking chair: it gives you something to do, but doesn’t get you anywhere.”
In the past few years, there have been numerous cases where students giving their board exams have resolved to commit to suicide, for the mere reason of not being able to manage exam pressure and, of course, peer pressure.
After researching as well as thinking stress management thoroughly, I have come up with a few ideas to help you cope with this nasty pressure in creative and effective ways. The third way works SO well.
- Discuss your issues
If any subject has got you feeling suffocated (not literally), talk it out with your parents. Remember, they have gone through this whole drill.
- Eat a LOT of healthy food
Do not compromise with your eating habits at all. Eating properly helps you to focus on your study plan which indirectly helps you with stress management. From my experience, not eating and studying for hours can lead to headaches and an irritable mood.
- Make learning fun, be creative for this one Long, boring pages of a theory subject can be turned fun to learn. After completing about two pages of learning, take a break. I even put gummy bears after every two pages so that once I have completed studying those pages, I get a small reward! It has been scientifically proven that small, regular breaks of about five minutes can really boost up the learning capacity. Don’t get influenced by others
Talk with your friends regularly and take tips on how to plan to study but do not compare your preparation with them. Sometimes, out of pure concern, even my own sister starts feeling nervous for me. But I know that I will finish the course and nothing bothers me.
- Pet therapy
If you have a pet that you adore, play with it. It is said that pets are one of the best stress busters. According to me, this is one of the best ways to manage exam pressure.
- Study where you are most comfortable, keep changing places
Some people like to walk and learn, while others like to sit in the sun or an open place and study. Find the most comfortable space and remember to keep changing the place after every 2-3 hours. This prevents getting bored and sleepy.
NOTHING MATTERS. Try to learn how to plan to study by following the steps mentioned above but, if, by chance, your exams do not go well. Don’t fret, it won’t change anything and at least, you gave it your best shot.
Even if you could not attempt the whole paper and ended up messing it, it is alright because you would know where you went wrong. And once you know this, everything else will seem like a piece of cake.
Frankly, you just need to be honest with yourself because only a student knows where he/she went wrong and how he/she can solve the problem. No exam can take away your “ness”. This might sound weird but suppose if your name is Shelly; no one, absolutely no one can take away your Shelly-ness, which includes your amazing personality, uniqueness, awesomeness and of course, your fearfulness.
So please, please do not let streams, peer pressure, parental pressure, fear of failing or any subject scare you. It will all be fine. Take my example. From being an under-confident, over-anxious child, I managed to become a confident and fearless teenager (only in terms of studies, I still run for my life when I see a lizard).
My dad told me once that everyone finds their own way but what makes some of us stand out is the zest and fearlessness that makes you say “Bring it on.”