Each one of us has once shared this moment of panic. The moment when before exams you have just started reading your question paper and suddenly you realize that somewhere between the exam hall door and your seat, your learnt lessons have chosen to walk away from you. This had made you frantic. You had started panicking. All that you could hear then was the clock ticking by and you watching others write for a long time.

This particular kind of stress is known as ‘Exam Stress’. Few people are more susceptible than others.

Stress is a natural, healthy bodily response which humans have evolved in order to protect them in times of danger. When an individual is faced with a stressor, a hormone is released within the body which causes various physiological changes; the heart begins to pump faster in order to supply the body’s muscles with a larger supply of oxygen, blood pressure therefore increases and the body perspires more to prevent over-heating due to the body’s increased metabolic rate. Although this evolutionary advantage is excellent at preparing the body for a fight with a wild tiger, it’s not as magnificent when it comes to students and their exams.


According to findings by social research psychologist Martyn Denscombe, teenagers suffer from exam stress for four reasons.

  • The educational or occupational consequences associated with the outcome of the exam;
  • Their self-esteem with regards to the outcome of their grades (the self esteem of students increase with marks obtained by them).
  • Judgments from friends and parents in relation to their performance.
  • Fear of disappointing their teachers.

There is a whole range of different signs which may indicate that someone is feeling stressed. The signs could include: strong feelings such as feeling scared or irritable; changes in your thinking such as being unable to concentrate and remember things; behavioural changes such as changes in your appetite, increased use of drugs or alcohol and sleeping difficulties; physical changes such as headaches or other pains from muscles that have become tense. People vary greatly in the way that they react to stress, and you should therefore try to become aware of how your body and behaviour change and take action to minimize any negative effects by knowing how to de-stress yourselves.

This kind of exam stress can be overcomed by a student by interacting with others at that point of time and taking out all that is inside. Sometimes having a mentor helps in such situations as they play an important role in bringing back the lost hope on ourselves thereby boosting our confidence level.

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