Exam Stress

I should have written this blog over one months ago, but it got held up. Well at least it is in time for next year! Exams are like football matches in the sense that there is always a young person engaged in an exam or a big match somewhere. Many students in the world have to deal the stress of exams and the expectations they place on themselves, the pressure for parents, teachers and their sense of society's expectations on them.

The metaphor of the athlete training for and competing in the Olympic Games is a good one. Not only is exercise an asset for us in staying well, the image of the training athlete fits with the student preparing for the major public exams. If we get too stressed then that can lead to depression, tiredness, poor concentration, declining academic performance and withdrawal from the academic work and suicidal thinking and despair.

In the UK very good students are invited t try for A* at 16 and 18 years, whilst in Japan the bar is set very high or too high. Consequently there are a small but significant number of students e.g. 400000 in Japan, who actually withdraw from the academic and social demands of education.

Students could practice visualizing a good outcome and developing relaxation techniques and seeing how they can draw out their existing knowledge to answer the question.

The culture within each school will influence how some students approach their exams. If you thrive on the intense pressure of the academic hothouse then the culture is to your advantage. Alternatively you may gain confidence form being the big fish in the little pond. However some students will think about the negative aspects of their school setting academic pressure and future prospects in a very persistent way that will generate too much anxiety, thereby distracting them form the academic tasks of getting work and revision done. Worry and stress generate the wind that will blow us off course in our academic tasks.

Before exams doctors and nurses should not really change or decrease medications for depression if all is well for the young person and when the exams are over it is a logically good time to try medication reductions or cessation of a young person is being treated for depression or anxiety with medication.

Parents usually understand how to support their children and offer them the encouragement to do their best. They are supportive to students in providing meals, safety, a listening ear and talk of hopes and different activities after exams. Usually supportive parents are by the side of the track or watching events unfold on the television, as if their children are competing in the Olympics!


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