Neetin Agrawal, Senior Vice President, Toppr
Examinations are one of the most effective ways of academic assessments. However, examinations are also a source of anxiety for students. Not just examinations, with the fast paced syllabus, students are constantly in a rat race. In a recent study among 190 students, 2/3rd students reported that they feel constantly pressured to perform well in academics. Also, society is prejudiced towards students who fail to perform well in examinations. However, the impacts of performance pressure have far reaching consequences.
Anxiety and Stress
In a recent study by a researcher in Boston University, 83 out of 100 students revealed that academic pressure had negatively impacted their mental health. Several causes for academic stress came to light in the study:
Strict deadlines for crucial assignments.
Insensitivity towards a students’ learning capacity.
Vast syllabus covered in a short period of time.
Studies have also been conducted based on the Spence Children’s Anxiety Scale (SCAS) among a group of school children in the age group of 8-15 years in Mumbai. Based on this study, the following were identified as primary symptoms of anxiety in students.
Separation anxiety: anxiety of being cornered out by peers in school
Fear of physical injury: fear of being punished by teachers with physical expressions like a slap or ruler hits
Panic/agoraphobia: panic attacks before important exams
Social anxiety: feeling anxious in gatherings and social events
While anxiety and stress are primary consequences of academic pressure, social isolation is what follows ahead. Students who take a longer time to grasp, are labelled in classes. As peers corner them out in group activities, their anxiety increases and leads to panic. Students who are unable to score good marks are even looked down upon by teachers in class. This perspective requires an immediate shift because students have their own strengths and weaknesses.
Some of the common red flags are:
They no longer enjoy going to school.
They lose interest in their favorite hobbies.
They may find reasons to bunk school.
Another flipside of performance pressure is inducing unhealthy competition. Students who perform under pressure find it hard to handle failures in academics. They subconsciously believe that scoring high marks is the only way to be treated well. Competition is good, but only if taken in the right spirit. Parents must spend time with their children to inculcate a healthy competitive spirit in them.
Last-Minute Cramming Before Exams
Many students have a misconception that studying 24 hours before the exam and last-minute preparation helps them score well. Last-minute cramming with doubts piled up is what causes maximum stress for students. Online doubt resolution apps like Toppr answr help students get expert assistance for doubt resolution instantly. But it is for the students to manage time effectively and prepare ahead of time.
While most of the above mentioned impacts are manageable, here are some ways to prevent academic stress:
Observe what the child feels and says after school
Be aware of the childs’ mood swings and mental health
Speak to a child counsellor if the behaviour is hard to decode
Always be a good listener and build trust with the child
Performance pressure leads to an array of long-term health effects in students. It is imperative to address this in the early growing stages of a child. Teachers and parents collectively must put an effort in taking note of the early red flags in the childs’ performance. Together, it is possible to guide students to learn in a stress-free environment.