Why do exams lead to stress?

Exam stress develops generally due to the inability to cope with the requirements posed by an exam, for example, not being able to complete the syllabus or not being able to understand a particular concept which is important for the upcoming exam, basically if a person lacks the resources required to tackle the exam, anxiety, and stress are common to develop, sometimes exam stress develops even if the person has the necessary resources, this is because the person’s perception about the exam is generating stress and not the exam itself, if someone views an exam as a dangerous situation, stress is very likely to develop.

Exam stress can manifest itself in different ways depending on the individual and the type of exam they are preparing for. The most common symptoms include:

• A feeling of despair, anxiety, or worry

• A feeling that you will never be able to get through enough work or preparation before the exam

• An inability to concentrate or to think clearly

• An inability to sleep because your mind is racing

• An inability to relax because you feel guilty that you are not working

• Migraines or headaches

• Prolonged tiredness

Examination anxiety

Examination anxiety is a fairly common phenomenon that involves feelings of tension or uneasiness that occur before, during, or after an examination. Many people experience feelings of anxiety around examinations and find it helpful in some ways, as it can be motivating and create the pressure that is needed to stay focused on one’s performance. Examination nerves, worry, or fear of failure are normal for even the most talented student. However, the stress of formal examination results in such high degrees of anxiety in some students that they are unable to perform at a level that matches the potential they have shown in less stressful classroom situations. Examination stress has been characterizing as “evaluative apprehension” or “evaluative stress” and produces debilitating Behavioural, cognitive, and physiological effects no different from those produced by any other stressors.

High stress can interfere with the student's preparation, concentration, and performance. Examination stress can cause test anxiety which adversely affects test performance. Persons who are high in test anxiety tend to perceive evaluative situations as personally threatening; in test situations, they are often tense, apprehensive, nervous, and emotionally aroused. Moreover, the negative self-centered cognition which they experience distracts their attention and interferes with concentration during examinations. High test anxious students respond to examination stress with intense emotional reactions, negative thoughts about themselves, feelings of inadequacy, helplessness, and loss of status and esteem that impair their performance. Generally, the high-test anxious person instead of plunging into a task plunges inward, that is, either neglect or misinterprets informational cues that may be readily available to her/him, or experiences attentional blocks. While preparing for examinations, one must spend enough time for study, overview and weigh one’s strengths and weaknesses, discuss difficulties with teachers and classmates, plan a revision timetable, condense notes, space out revision periods, and most importantly on the examination day concentrate on staying calm.

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