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Overcoming examination phobia as WAEC approaches

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By Nkiruka Ezedinugwu

LAST week,  Saturday to be precise, I paid a visit to a friend of mine who is residing in Isu-Aniocha, in Awka North Local Government Area with her family. I passed the night there, because I planned to spend the weekend with them, and in the course of my stay there, I observed something about her first child and I raised the issue in the process of our discussion. The child in question (a girl ), is preparing for this forthcoming WAEC Examination that is expected to commence on Monday, May 9, 2022, and also expected to end on Tuesday, June 28, 2022. This girl used to be chubby and doesn’t  eat much, but now she eats more than everyone in the house, sleeps a lot and instead of growing fatter, she is now somewhat lanky and always keep to herself more these days.

  So when I raised my concern about the girl, the mother said: “I don’t know what to do again. She is afraid of the forthcoming exam and I have told her countless times that there is nothing to fear about the exam; that you either pass or fail”. I was listening to hear more of her efforts to alleviate the fears of the girl, but to my utmost surprise, that is just her best. Then I asked, what will be the fate of this young girl if she is left to start this examination with this state of mind, also bearing in mind that there are a thousand and one other teenagers out there, suffering from this same menace. Therefore, I have taken out time to get the opinion of some people on the best ways to help every child going through this ordeal conquer his or her fears.

  Speaking on this issue, Mrs Stella Ezeodili, an education analyst said: “From the beginning of a child’s academic life, exams are taken to be extremely important and lately, it is becoming increasingly competitive. In the scenario of today’s education system, exam stress is very high and children tend to crumble under this enormous stress. Such stresses, most times, lead to children falling sick as the examinations approache or some of them might notice that their brains are completely blank during the examination.

  “Now, phobia, in its simplest terms, is a fear towards a certain phenomenon which tends to vary from person to person, and can be diagnosed as uncontrollable anxiety in relation to heights, exams, needles, animals, sounds, visual elements and so on. It is an extreme, irrational fear, while some would define it as a mental disorder too. In the modern world, among many other phobias, some become victims of a rare kind of phobia called “Exam Phobia”. A person affected with this phobia finds it harder to face various kinds of examinations. Listed under are some helpful tips for parents to follow to overcome exam phobia.

  “On the part of parents, they should understand that supporting their children play a major role in helping them overcome the exam fear and to drive out the pressure from their minds. As a parent, do not pressurise them over not achieving. Do not compare their achievements with others; this will hurt a child’s self-esteem. Allow them focus on their studies while helping them with preparations. Be happy with their performance. This will make them feel relaxed and in so doing, they are releasing the pressures of exams”.

  “Letting your child study in a calm, relaxed atmosphere helps a child learn and revise well, thus preparing him to beat exam fear. A good, balanced diet and sufficient sleep also is a booster in overcoming exam fear. Carrying out the role of a good parent plays a vital role in helping your child overcome the exam fear. With a combination of relaxed environment and parental role, it would be possible for any student to beat the exam stress and perform better in their examination”.

  Airing her views on what students should do to overcome exam phobia, Mrs Celestina Lezianya,a secondary school teacher has this to say:“I just want to list some tips that students should follow to overcome exam fear.

 Prepare well beforehand

  One of the best ways to overcome examination fear is to prepare well in advance for the examination. Never leave anything to the last minute or chance. When you are well prepared, you have nothing to fear. You are prepared for any question you may see on the question paper and hence you can eliminate the fear.

Good sleep

  Just as studying is important, having a good sleep is equally important. Sleep and stress are directly proportional. Good sleep can reduce stress levels to a large extent. Sleep helps to convert what you have learnt into a more permanent form. Therefore, sleeping well can result in great examination performance and good grades.

Eat Well

  Believe it or not, eating right is one of the best ways of dealing with exam phobia. In fact, studies have shown certain foods that help to reduce levels of anxiety and stress. So one can easily lay hand on such information, eat such food and reduce the stress level.

 Meditation

  Meditation is one of the foremost tried and tested methods to reduce examination phobia and stress. It has been scientifically proven that meditation reduces stress level and increases calmness within the body.

Stay clear of chatting with friends before the examinations

  While preparing for examinations, it is best not to compare yourself with your friends or peers. While at times, friends can be encouraging and motivating, at other times, you may just get tensed when you compare your level of study with theirs. Not being on the same level of study as your friends could lead to unnecessary anxiety and stress before the examinations.

Be positive

  It is very necessary to have a positive attitude and mindset while studying for your examinations. If you believe you can do it, you definitely will. A positive attitude is half the battle won. Being positive is one of the best ways to overcome exam fear.

  From the above, it is evident that examination phobia is a real thing. It is important to note that if you suffer from severe examination phobia and cannot help yourself through the above methods, you must not hesitate to visit a psychologist or a medical specialist. Seeking professional help in this regard can go a long way in helping you overcome your fear of examinations. This examination stress is treatable and can be easily tamed. Though it is safe to say that a small amount of stress during examinations is necessary to get you motivated to study and perform well. Stress going the extreme way is when it has to be tamed.

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