Think for yourself, set goals and move ahead.

“Are you feeling nervous? Can’t concentrate? Here, try a cigarette. It’ll calm you down and help you concentrate. Trust me, it really works.” Such is the nature of advice countless impressionable adolescents are exposed to each year by fellow class-mates and seniors.

In our adolescent years, peers are perhaps the most important and influential people in our world. We listen to what they say. We may even try out suggestions they give — after all, they probably understand our experiences and concerns better than parents or teachers ever could.

However, exam time is crucial. It is important for you to make your own decisions and judgments. If you can’t concentrate, cigarettes are not the answer — neither do they calm you down, nor will they help with concentration. Similarly, coffee’s not the best idea to help with those all-nighters; it’s only going to add to the anxiety. Memory pills don’t work either — they’re just a marketing gimmick. Rather than blindly following anything your friend says, think for yourself.

In other situations, peer influence is insidious and not always very easy to discern. It can be a group of friends who asks you to come out with them for a film when you, in fact, are planning to study; it can be a classmate who mocks you for ‘being a nerd’; it can be a friend who frantically calls you in the middle of the night to compare levels of preparation; it can be your best friend with whom you discuss future plans to ensure you’re both in the same college for the next 3-5 years.

Set your goal

When in the company of peers, it’s important for you to think critically — think about your own goals and priorities, think about consequences of your actions and make a fully informed decision.

The key to coping with peer pressure is to be assertive. If you know what you want, take a stand. Don’t be rude or abrasive — instead, give a reason for your decision. No one likes saying no to their friends — it might make them feel bad; it might even end the relationship altogether. But if they’re your true friends, they will surely understand. Respect your friend but also respect yourself.

All said and done, exams are no reason for you to start leading a hermetic life. Your friends can be a great support system in times of exams. With friends, you know you’re not alone — your peers are probably in the same boat as you. Remember that just as your peers influence you, you might be influencing them too. Help them in their times of distress; be a positive influence in their lives.