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Strategy for Combating Exam Stress

Mon, 30 May 2005 Source: GNA

(A GNA Feature by Rex Annan)

Accra, May 30, GNA - Examinations are here again and students have many challenges to face, ranging from personal academic goals, parental expectation, peer pressure, panic and fear of failure. Really, it is natural for individuals to have stress over exams but the tension can be minimised through workable strategies.

Here, parents of the students can be of immense help by trying to eliminate the externally induced stress. Otherwise, the situation is aggravated and the child is affected mentally and physically. Setting standards for the child is good but pressurising them into fulfilling them may be damaging.

As a start, parents are to identify the indices of stress then they would be better equipped to supply the much needed guidance and support for the child to adjust.

The indicators of stress include open hostility in talk and behaviour of the student, wilful defiance to parental authority, blame of others, over-sensitivity, mood changes, drop in achievement levels, overworking, aggression or withdrawal and spells of despair. Stress if not carefully handled and fought against, could result into high blood pressure, peptic ulcer, kidney diseases, asthmas, diabetes and other physiological disorders with headache as the first ominous sign.

Do not use threats or abuses or comparisons. Rather, encourage your child and get involved in his or her studies if he or she is co-operative. When the child sees your support and knows the reason for learning, he or she would love to study.

According to some learning theories, one of the secrets that could help parents to play a proper role as supportive parents is that they get involved in the child's studies.

This could be done by discussing some school subjects with them, solving problems with them, asking or answering their questions and any other thing that will bring the school home and make the child take a firm footing. Parents are expected to see to the child's reading schedules and advise him or her on matters relating to his academics. Thus, he or she would know that the parents are interested in his or her life and success as well. Help them to get relevant books, relevant materials, and hints from the Internet and educational journals. Give them practical tips on preparing for and passing exams without tears.

If there are subjects that they perform poorly in, do not be unduly agitated; rather, try to help them overcome the obstacles probably by inviting a course mate over or by employing private teachers on those subjects. Advise them to have enough rest and sleep.

Along with them, plan some short breaks in between their study hours. Provide the child with well balanced diet and proper nutrition with some exercise to tune up the body muscles to aid proper development good assimilation, healthy living and vitality.

The students themselves have a part to play to combat stress during exams. Developing proper study habits by the student helps to reduce stress during exams. But, when as a student you do not study well or you follow wrong methods, you are courting failure. Lack of an effective study timetable, shifting study until exam time only to embark on cram work, depending on others or on microchips would make stress inevitable.

Some experts recommend the SQ3R technique, as it has proved very effective for students at all level.

It helps students to understand the text including difficult ones. It enables them to fix the essentials in the memory so that they could revise effectively and efficiently for good success during examinations.


SURVEY: At the stage, the student starts by running through the topic or textbook to allow him or her to get the best overall view of what is to be studied.

QUESTION: Making use of specific questions, he or she is able to discover the main points emphasised in the topic. These questions would elicit the how, why, when, where and what was the text. Ask for the core ideas and the minor details on the text, as this would help the student to concentrate better on the important things in the study. READ: A careful reading would help the student to understand ideas, terms and facts enshrined in the subject. Reading is a way to help a student to hone the memory.

RECITE: He should repeat to himself or herself what he or she had learnt to test how much he or she grasped from the topic. For abstract phenomena, the student should get concrete and familiar terms or use association method or mnemonics to help him or her to retain the facts in the memory. The student should go over the topic again when he or she could not remember a thing or seems to have missed out some important facts.

REVIEW: As the student summarises and organises or brings together in some meaningful conceptual manner, all that he or she had learnt, a careful review or revision would enable him or her to fully assimilate the various ideas and points. The student would now clarify the hazy points and master the facts, and review the ones he or she had forgotten.

When this method is adopted, following a regular study timetable and reading subjects over, as many times as possible before exam, the student would be ready for any examination with ease. But he or she should not forget to pray.


Enter the exam hall prayerfully, trusting the Lord to bring to your memory all that is relevant for your success.

Read all the instructions in your question paper. Focus first on the questions that you know the answers very well. In sum, before you attempt difficult questions, answer the simpler ones. Organise your thoughts before you start to write down answers. This would help you answer questions in a more logical way that would attract higher marks.

When in the examination hall, try to exclude every other thing from your memory except the subject you are writing right then. Shun exam malpractices such as asking for answers from others trying to help other candidates. This violates the ethics of the exam and attracts a sanction.

Allot time to each question, depending on the duration of the examination.

Be calm and composed. If you have done your best, leave the rest to God, who would reward you for your efforts. He is the author of all true success.

Pray, thereafter, covering your script with the blood of Jesus that your answer script would neither be misplaced nor be badly marked.

Columnist: GNA