Understanding Examinophobia

The examination fever descends on the students time and again. They might have studied diligently the entire year and revised the syllabus a good number of times. But in the exam hall, when the question paper is handed out, they become anxious and nervous. The mind goes numb, and the students struggle to recall the answers. Their hands and feet get cold, and their heart starts pounding. As students, everyone has experienced this at some point in their life. But what is the exam phobia?

What is Examinophobia?

Fear of exams or phobia of exams is real. Scientifically, the fear of exams is called as ‘Examinophobia’. It is a mental disorder found in most of the students but often ignored by parents and teachers. The parents and teachers, more often than not, assume exam fear as the incapability of the student and discard its existence. 

Although the fear of exams can occur at any age, it often starts during the early childhood and adolescence stage – the stages where the students’ potential is tested through tests, examinations, and interviews. Though there could be numerous reasons for exam phobia, the causes of exam stress could be mainly due to the fear of failing an exam. 

Other causes could be:

  • Excessive worry about exams
  • Feeling doubtful about the evaluation process 
  • Worried about the consequences after the results. Especially, in households where parents are not supportive if the student scores less
  • High expectations from parents, relatives, and society 
  • Lack of confidence could lead to a phobia of exams when exposed to a stressful situation 
  • Poor parenting could be one of the major reasons. The environment where the student grows affects the personality of the student. In the house where parents always quarrel, the child grows up as an insecure individual or a person with low-esteem. During exams, this insecurity could create more stress and lead to examinophobia. 

Examinophobics suffer from hyper anxiety, severe examination stress, inability to concentrate, and sudden amnesia. These kinds of symptoms might lead to negative consequences mentally as well as physically. The student might suffer from vomiting and diarrhea. If the student is exposed to stress for a longer period of time, it could lead to depression as well. 

How to eliminate Examinophobia?

Exam fear or phobia of exams is prevalent but it is one of the least recognized disorders. As much as it is important to understand the delicate nature of this order, it is even more important to eliminate it, to maintain the good mental health of children. 

Before the exam:

  • Regular study/routine study: Instead of preparing for the exams at the last moment, having a schedule for studies and preparing regularly could help the child to kick away the examination fear. 
  • Choose the right time to study: Night owl or a morning person? If your child is a morning person, let him/her do most of the study before lunch, not late at night. If s/he is a night owl, let them relax during the daytime and study at night. 
  • Ensure your child gets enough sleep: Irrespective of how much your child has studied, if s/he has not slept well, there are high chances that their mind might go numb during exams.  
  • Solve previous years’ question papers: Most of the time, questions are repeated from past exam papers. Even otherwise, the previous years’ question papers can give you an idea about question paper pattern. This keeps the examination fear at bay as the child is mentally prepared for what to expect in the exam.
  • Talk it out: Encourage the students to talk out if they don’t understand certain things or feel stressed. Discussing the exam stress can provide a bit of relief to the students. 
  • Relax your mind: Yes, exams are a stressful phase. But if the child would like to watch a movie, or listen to music a day before the exam, let him/her. This relaxes their minds. 

During the exam:

  • Deep breathing: The exam stress or phobia of exams can constrict the oxygen flow to the brain. Deep breathes can reverse this process and increase the oxygen flow to the brain. This causes the mind and body to relax.
  • Skip the difficult questions: If a question in the exam paper is difficult to answer, advise the child to skip those questions, answer the easier ones and come back to the difficult questions later. 

After an exam:

  • Don’t discuss: The friends of your child might have done better or worse in the exam. It is best not to discuss this. 
  • Nothing can be changed: Irrespective of how your child has performed in the examination, it can’t be changed. So, its best to forget the past exam and prepare for the upcoming exams. 

There is no one secret mantra to eliminate examination phobia. But with proper measures, it could be avoided. After all, time management, hard work, and learning from previous mistakes are the key factors for success. 

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