Beating The Exam Blues

For today’s school children, their lives revolve around frequent tests and exams. But despite their common occurrence, tests are always stressful. Contrary to common perception, the stress one feels is NOT related to the test itself, but depends more on what you think of it and its consequences. People may see them as monsters but with a proper mindset and right preparation, they stop being the horrors they look like.

Actually, the problem lies with the word test itself, which we take to mean a peek into our worth, performance or merit. No matter how many times you have taken tests or how old you are, a test is enough to send a few jitters down your spine. Relax!  Later, you’ll find that a moderate amount of stress is actually good for you.  But too much of it can mar the show, resulting in many unnecessary worries, blackouts and F’s on score cards. Read on to discover!

Spotting Exam Stress

Check following check boxes to see if your child shows any of these symptoms. Usually, stressful children suffer from 

A. Irritability

B. Poor sleep

C. Lack of interest in food

D. Excessive worries

E. Depressed/ Negativity

F. Constant Tiredness

G. Forgetfulness

H.  Unexplained aches/pains

I. Poor appetite

J. Migraine/Headache

K. Dizziness

L. Stomachache

Talking to them about their work can be helpful. Timely support from a parent, tutor or study mate can help children share their worries and appreciate the situation better. If the child can’t cope, speaking to the school teachers can be helpful.

Remind your child that feeling anxious is perfectly normal and human. The key is to put these nerves to positive use. Reminding them of what they know and the time they have invested makes them feel more confident.

Eating Well

A balanced diet is vital to health, and makes your child feel better-equipped to cope with the exam period. Fuel their brains and bodies but make sure that you do not stuff them with high-fat, high-sugar and high-caffeine foods (e.g. cola, sweets, chocolate, burgers and chips) as they make children hyperactive, irritable and moody.

Getting Enough Sleep

A good night’s sleep improves thinking and concentration. Most teenagers need 8-10 hours' sleep a night.  Let the kids wind down for 30 minutes between studying/ TV/ computer and going to bed for better sleep.

Staying up all night before an exam is a BAD idea. Rather, proper sleep will benefit your child far more than any panicky last-minute study.

Being Flexible

If the child has been studying all day, don't worry about dirty floor/untidy bedrooms. You too need to stay calm to help the child remain calm. Remember, exams DON’T last forever.

Helping Them

Help your child revise with a peaceful, comfortable place to study. Help him/ her make a revision timetable. It can make the efforts more directed, purposeful and productive.

Exercise During Exams

Your kids need to be active and exercise boosts energy levels, clears the mind and relieves stress.  Nothing de-stresses the mind faster than physical activity. Build it into the timetable. Let them walk, cycle, swim, dance or do anything else - they all are effective.

Avoiding Comparisons

They kill the real, special human being inside each of us.  Had God wanted a uniform world with identical humans, he would have set up a factory somewhere up there. Respect your child for his/ her uniqueness and do not let him/ her fall prey to things like "Oh my God, I've done Othello only 17 times", “I am such a dud. Only second in the class !”

Don't Add to the Pressure

Many children feel the greatest exam-time pressure from their families. Many parents have unrealistic expectations and create unnecessary performance pressure, stressing them further. Instead, keep it in perspective, listen, give support but avoid criticism to their lives easier.

Before they go for a test, be reassuring and positive. They need to be taught that failure in a test isn't the end of the world, and that life always gives a second chance. Post-exam, talk to your child, move on and focus on the next test, rather than dwelling on things that can't be undone.


Help your child celebrate the end-of-exams with a treat but DON’T use rewards as bribes. Instead, encourage your child with small, frequent treats.