Board examination twice a year: the stress of double examinations for students?

Even before getting his grade 9 final exam results, 15-year-old Lourembam Sanathoi started taking coaching lessons for the stressful grade 10 board exams. He says, “If I start preparing early, I can perform better. He is joined by 20 other students who take coaching classes in all subjects in the morning and evening. But the recent announcement by India’s Ministry of Education that school board examinations for grades 10 and 12 would be held twice a year starting from the 2024-2025 academic session came as a shock to Sanathoi and his friends. Will this new decision take student board exam stress to a new level?

Devikarani, Sanathoi’s mother, thinks the board exams twice a year mean “double stress”. She says: “It’s not just the students who experience the stress of exams, but also the parents. We also have to accompany them at odd hours.

Board examination twice a year is quite stressful for students. Image provided by: Shutterstock

Positives and negatives of two jury reviews in one year

Exam stress or anxiety cannot be taken lightly. Last year, the National Council for Educational Research and Training (NCERT) found that around 80% of children studying in grades 9 to 12 suffer from anxiety about exams and results. Holding board exams twice a year can create additional pressure on students, says Suman Mittal, Principal of Kalorex Future School, Ghatlodia, Ahmedabad. Indeed, they will have to prepare and pass two sets of jury exams in a short period of time. She explains to Health Shots: “This can lead to higher levels of stress, especially in children who already find exams very difficult. »

But at the same time, it can be seen as two chances given to the students to appear for the examinations of the jury. The director of the Central Council for Secondary Education says: “Students might feel less worried about the results since they have the opportunity to improve in the next cycle and the program will be divided into two halves. This could potentially reduce the stress associated with a single high-stakes exam.

Dr. Rituparna Ghosh, a clinical psychologist at Apollo Hospitals in Navi Mumbai, also finds both positive and negative effects on students’ stress levels during exams.

Why two board exams a year can be good for kids

1. Second chance

With two exam cycles per year, students would have a second chance to pass if they do not achieve the desired results on the first attempt. This could potentially reduce the intensity of stress associated with fear of failure.

2. Improved preparation

The prospect of having another chance to take the exam could motivate students to maintain consistent study habits throughout the year, potentially leading to better preparation, the expert says.

3. Learn from experience

Students taking the first exam could use their experience to identify areas for improvement and develop better strategies for the second attempt. This could help them deal with stress more effectively.

The negative side of two jury reviews in one year

1. Higher frequency

Holding board exams twice a year could lead to a more frequent cycle of stress for students. Preparing for exams takes a lot of time and effort, and the shorter intervals between exams might not allow enough time for full learning, Dr. Ghosh notes.

2. Pressure to perform

While getting a second chance is always a good thing, it could also increase the pressure to pass both exams. Students may feel pressure to excel in both exams, leading to higher stress levels.

3. Ongoing Exam Preparation

The need to prepare for exams throughout the year can lead to a constant feeling of exam-related stress, which could impact students’ overall well-being and ability to participate in other activities .

4. Impact on the curriculum

The more frequent exam schedule could shift education towards exam-centric learning rather than holistic understanding and skill development, which could increase stress levels.

5. Limited breaks

Students could have fewer breaks between exam cycles, reducing their opportunities for rest and relaxation. This continuous cycle could have an impact on their mental and emotional well-being, says the expert.

Tips for reducing exam stress in children

Exam stress can lead to headaches, nausea, muscle tension, rapid heartbeat, sweating and shaking in some cases. These are just some of the signs of exam stress. But if you don’t want your child to go through all this, there are things you and the teachers can do.

1. Create a positive classroom environment

Teachers can relieve exam stress by creating a supportive and positive classroom environment, says Mittal. They can encourage open communication, offer study tips and techniques, provide regular feedback, and set realistic expectations.

Exam Stress
Students need a break from the stress of exams. Image courtesy: Adobe stock

2. Organize stress relief activities

Teachers can also provide stress-relieving activities for students, suggests Mittal. So the list can include mindfulness exercises, experiential learning, project-based learning, and group discussions. All of this can help students effectively manage their stress levels and gain lifelong learning.

3. Set realistic expectations

You should avoid putting undue pressure on your child to achieve unrealistic goals. Parents and teachers should set achievable expectations that take into account the child’s abilities and learning style, says Dr. Ghosh. A balanced approach to studies reduces the fear of failure and the resulting stress.

4. Promote breaks and leisure

Parents and teachers can stress the importance of breaks and leisure activities during study periods. Breaks allow the brain to rest and regenerate, leading to better focus and retention. Indulging in hobbies, physical activities, and spending time with friends can also be a healthy distraction from exam stress.

If your child is always stressed about exams and has difficulty sleeping or is frequently in a bad mood, you should consult a psychologist.

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