By Sophie Kavanagh
Exams. The one word and two syllables enough to evoke a sense of foreboding in any student. When one thinks of exams, we think of intense, long, studious hours in the library, frantic discussions of prediction with friends and peers, exam papers and a fluster for solutions. We think of the grim walk to the Kingfisher, the attendant’s robotic voice; ‘begin’. Staring at the white booklet in front of you, the contents inside that contain your academic fate.
Exams are a mandatory part of any student’s life, regardless of the degree you pursue. Some people work efficiently and excel in exams, others are not so lucky. I believe a major component in the reason for this is the tremendous pressure felt by the student.
Pressure from their parents for example, everyone wants to please their parents, and reassure them that (if this is the case) their tuition money was well spent, that they are growing and learning, heading in the right direction. So understandably, the thought of a bad exam result is scary when you can’t reassure your parents of this, and will have to endure the potential disappointment and disapproval from them.
Pressure from peers is also crucial. No one wants to feel inadequate and less able in comparison to your friends and their exam results, particularly those studying the same course. Some students may feel pressure to secretly compete with their friends/peers to avoid feeling like this.
Most importantly, there exists pressure from the students themselves, relying on the exams to perhaps ensure that you are capable in this field of study and to have something to show for the last twelve weeks of lectures, current assessments and exams of the past semester. There is pressure to do as well as you possibly can for yourself and your degree.
Of course, there are many reasons students get stressed for exams, but these are the ones I found to be the most common. I have also found that nailing a good mental state for exams is based around two things: stress management, and recognising your ability.
The stress is normal, but if not managed properly it can be fundamental in the depletion of your mental health coming towards exams. To keep the stress at bay, be organised. Make a schedule, so that you know what you’re doing, when you’re doing it and how you’re doing it, so you won’t even have the time to be stressed. There are also rescue remedies available in the chemist on campus that contain cherry-plum and rockrose to alleviate stress and panic.
Your ability is not something you can change, and many people get bogged down about this. In some situations, people are putting endless hours and effort into studying, only to not gain the results they want, and deserve. You must accept your ability, by all means flourish it, improve it, allow it to reach its fullest potential, but don’t push it to the point of more unnecessary stress, you must have faith in it. Try to remember that your ability is what got you into this course and it is your ability that will get you out of it, with a degree.