Stress and Academic Performance

Hello Everyone

It's been a busy time for us here at Edu-Profile. As we approach the year-end exam period there is a definite increase in interest in our "Exam Stress" programme. There's no doubt about it: exam time = stress time for learners and parents alike. It's likely that you (or your youngster) have found yourself in the grip of exam stress at some point. It's that mixture of fear and anxiety when you:

  • Go "blank" and cannot recall information you know well

  • Lose your usual creativity

  • Misread questions

  • Interpret questions incorrectly

  • Become upset by the paper or a question in the paper

  • Work too fast or too slowly

  • Make careless mistakes

  • Panic, resulting in an increased heartbeat, sweating or shivering

"Why does this happen to me - I've worked so hard!" this is a question that we're often asked. Perhaps an explanation of the origins of stress can help answer this question. Our bodies and brains are programmed to respond to dangerous situations by either fighting or running away. Think back to our pre-historic ancestors who had to outwit wild animals to stay alive. If you were being chased by a sabre tooth tiger, there was not much time to think about what to do; that's where our "fight or flight" response helped. This programming has lasted to this day and nowadays, whenever we are in a situation that we cannot control, we become anxious or worried, a feeling which we call "stress". We all need a certain amount of stress motivate us to action. After all, if there are no consequences for an action (whether positive or negative), why would we worry about performing or not performing that action? Positive stress gives you the energy to throw yourself into something where you want to make a contribution. Approaching exams should enhance a student's concentration and learning capability. So while a certain amount of stress is good, because it gets you alert and performing, it's when the stress becomes extreme that problems start to occur. There is a clear relationship between the demands made on us and our performance, which can be illustrated as follows: