With the Board exams just a month away, psychologists give tips on how to overcome stress.

“We have prepared adequately well and are confident to take the Board examination. Encouragement and counselling from teachers and revision test has helped us a lot,” says Jayashree and Swarna, Plus Two students of a private school in Chennai. “My anxiety is growing. What if the paper is too tough or tricky this year and what if I do not get admission in a good college?” asks Sai Prabha, a Plus Two student from a city school. “I have done well in the half-yearly examination and we have two more revisions to take. I am confident of scoring well. But not sure if I will get admission in an engineering college,” says Kumaran of a government-aided school.

Anxiety, restlessness and immense pressure seems to build up the stress levels of these Plus Two students. They seem to be immensely worried about the future beyond the exam, about getting admission to a course they would like to pursue. Motivation is what the students require at this crucial juncture of their lives.

Systemic planning

“Our school adopts a systematic revision exam pattern and, that, to some extent, makes the students build their confidence levels,” says Padmini Sriraman, principal of The Hindu Senior Secondary School, Indira Nagar. Taking revision tests helps students develop the skill of time management. “When it comes to revision, students must follow an orderly fashion. Instead of skipping subjects, they must learn to complete one subject, take a short break and go ahead with the next subject,” says Dr. Kannan Gireesh, a city-based psychiatrist. “Small breaks will help refresh the fatigued mind. Marathon study is no good as it will only reduce your grasping capacity,” says Dr. Gireesh.

The overall stress levels of Plus Two students, who are all set to take the Board exams during March first week, is not so perceptible at this point, but closer to the exam date they usually experience nervousness, says S. Bhavanishankar, principal of Omega International School.

“Our child was extremely stressed out as she was attending school and also taking additional coaching at a private centre. We stopped that a few months ago and she is now concentrating only on the prescribed syllabus. She has a well-chalked out study plan and she adheres to it and is confident,” says Mrs. Aruna Balaji. “There is no change in her routine and she is relaxed in general,” she says.

“As I did not get to write the Class 10 Board exam in the CBSE due to CCE implementation, I am finding it a bit tough to handle the Plus Two exam,” says Kurubaran Udhayshanker, a Plus Two student of Sivaswami Kalalaya Higher Secondary School, Mylapore. What he finds difficult to handle is the high expectation of parents and peer pressure.

“Since November, I have been writing revision tests and that has given me an idea of tackling the examination. Yet it is but natural that closer to the date, I will surely be stressed out,” says Kurubaran.

“I am highly anxious about my Plus Two scores,” says Shruthi Esther of Velammal Matriculation School. “I have developed a perspective that taking exams and model exams have proved to be helpful.” Shruthi says that her aim is to take up Biology for her further course of study. “I want to do Biology and want to stick to this aim and am open to take up a course I get in this subject. I am not worried about the future at the moment. Therefore, I am not stressed out,” she says.

“It is the high performers who undergo a lot of stress and anxiety before the Board exams. Most others seem cool and composed and take exams with ease,” observes Padmini Sriraman. Priyadarshini, a student of government-aided school says, that she has benefited immensely from the special coaching classes provided by her school. “We get doubts clarified, have access to question bank, mark and read important questions and learn to write answers according to the requirement of various sections of the question paper,” she says.

Role of teachers

“Teachers are highly dedicated and conduct special classes from 8 a.m. to 9 a.m. before the regular school begins,’ says principal of a government-aided school. “Apart from giving counselling to students, we talk to the parents of these students who are from economically weaker sections, to reduce TV viewing and to provide nutritious meals to their children,” says the principal. What these students lack is guidance and encouragement from their parents. Therefore, we support and motivate them. We also make these students eat at the noon meals scheme centre during examination, he says. The school conducts rigorous coaching for Plus Two students closer to the exam date.

From this year, the CBSE, in order to strengthen its education system in the area of value education, will allocate three to five marks for Value-Based Questions, in all the core subjects. This will enable the students to score a few marks more, says a Mathematics teacher of a CBSE school in Chennai.

Path to your goal

Coimbatore-based psychiatrist Dr. Sitara Vikram says that avoiding last minute cramming and adapting a systematic study plan, career guidance from Class Nine onwards and regular counselling, are vital to ensuring that students develop a healthy attitude to examination. “Plus Two exam score is the not the be all and end all of one’s life. There is much more beyond that. Students must develop a clear aim as to what they want to become and how to achieve that aim,” she says. According to her, students must be taught to handle disappointment and made to understand that achievement of the goal is important and for that marks in Plus Two is not the only method. There are many paths to attain one’s goal.

“I also believe that spiritual tools such as yoga or chanting or meditation also go a long way in helping students overcome exam-related stress,” says Dr.Sitara. “Adequate sleep, healthy food and moderate physical activity also helps students overcome any discomfort they may experience during this period,” says Mrs. Padmini.