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Exam Phobia: Disease or disorder?

Exam Phobia: Disease or disorder?

Sentinel Digital DeskBy : Sentinel Digital Desk

  |  6 May 2019 9:32 AM GMT

Mercy Hazarika

The concept of examinations dates back to 605 AD when Ancient China was the first country in the world to implement a nationwide standardized test. The purpose of the test was to select able candidates for specific governmental positions. A test or examination is an assessment of one’s knowledge, skill or competency. But the idea of competency is nowadays looked more into as competition. With exams knocking on the door, the pressure of competition is seen to affect many aspirants. Even toppers are seen gaining a sense of fear or anxiety for the upcoming test. Anxiety can come before, during or even after the exam. Many term it as test anxiety, exam phobia or examination fever.

Many students feel that they will forget their answers or might not be able to write exactly what they have studied or prepared. A small amount of anxiety helps the brain to function and students are able to memorize whatever they have studied. But when this minimal level is crossed, anxiety has negative implications on the students. As a result, students cannot perform well and many students are seen to run away from exams. They consider not to appear for exams as a better option than failing to achieve the expected score. An extreme condition of exam phobia can lead to depression too.

Years long research have concluded Examination Phobia or Examophobia as a mental disorder of students. Although often used exchangeable, a disease and a disorder are not the same. A disease is a definite pathological process having a characteristic set of signs and symptoms. Disorder, on the other hand is a disturbance or derangement that affects the function of mind or body. Diseases are caused by extrinsic features whereas disorders occur due to intrinsic abnormalities.

As the definition of disorder itself states, the remedy behind phobias lie within the individual. Parents and teachers can play a big role in helping students to overcome exam phobia. Parents should understand that each individual is different and hence has different potential. They should not impose their expectations on their child as it can complicate the situation. Parents should always have a one-to-one interaction with their children to find out if they are facing any difficulty in their studies. This will not only help parents to keep a track of their child’s growth and also will make the child feel that they have someone to go to when in need. But parents should also not be over protective as it can make their children completely dependent on them. And when the child will be alone in any hard situation, it might be difficult for him/her to tackle that situation and if that situation is an upcoming exam, the child might develop exam phobia.

Teachers, on the other hand, can also help students in handling exam phobia. Firstly, a student should understand if he/she has developed exam phobia and if so that its treatment is necessary. Exam phobia can generally occur due to lack of preparedness for the exam and sometimes due to over preparedness also. Some examophobics claim not having a clear understanding of a particular subject as their cause of anxiety. Hence, a teacher should make the students understand that he/she is always available for the clearing their doubts. Also, students should be taught the importance of time management by having a systematic routine. As test anxiety is something very common in students nowadays, they should be provided with the motivation and confidence to face their exams boldly.

On an individual level, proper preparation, in depth and detailed study with some sort of group discussion with friends and teachers can help an aspirant to keep away the fear of exams. A balanced diet, some sort of meditation, proper amount of sleep, sufficient breaks, regularity, sincerity and concentration are the tools to be used for exam preparations.

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