Examination Phobia (Examophobia) – A Mental Disorder of Students

Examination Phobia (Examophobia) – A Mental Disorder of Students

Examination Phobia (Examophobia) – A Mental Disorder of Students

"I am a seventeen year old student studying in class XII. I want to pass my board examination with distinction and aspire to become an engineer. I study for the entire year very diligently; I am able to revise my entire syllabus 3-4 times. I am able to solve not only my issues related to studies, but able to solve my friends' issues also. My friends call me very intelligent. I am able to understand and memorize after studying only once. But, I fail to understand what happens to me during the examination. I feel so anxious and nervous that I forget the answers. Even though I had studied and memorized everything, I am not able to recall the answers. I am not able to write fast. I feel the same during practical examination. Even though I know the answer, I am not able to answer due to nervousness. I become completely blank. I get cold-feet and my heart starts pounding. The result is that even after knowing all the answers, I do not get the desired results. I want to succeed with flying colours in the examinations, but with all that I am undergoing, I am not sure what is going to happen."

This description is not of a specific student, but relates to thousands of students across the globe, who suffer from a mental disorder named "Examination Phobia" or "Examophobia" – the fear of examinations. Despite being intelligent and hard-working, these students are not able to succeed in examinations and interviews with their desired results. As such, they are embarrassed by the society or they are looked upon with sympathy, which worsens their condition. As such, they slowly start losing their confidence and also self-esteem.

What is Examination Phobia?

Examination phobia or Examophobia is a mental disorder found in most of the students. But most parents and teachers do not recognize it due to ignorance. They simply assume that the child is incapable. Most parents call themselves ill-fated for the entire situation and try to nurture their shattered ego.
Although this disorder can start at any age, it usually starts during childhood or adolescence stage. This is fear of a specific situation, may be an examination or an interview, where the potential of a student is tested. When a student is subjected to this situation, he becomes so nervous that he is not able to perform to his potential. As a result he has to satisfy himself with his under-potential performance.

Research has already proven that a minimum level of anxiety or fear is necessary for anybody to perform at an optimum level. Due to this minimum level of anxiety, the brain works extraordinarily; a student is able to recall the answers to the questions instantly. On the other hand, extreme fear and anxiety have a negative effect and block students' memories even if they are well-prepared. Examination phobia also follows this principle. Increased anxiety decreases the performance. As a result, one cannot achieve the desired results. When this phobia or fear is at its, highest point, the student is so much scared or gripped in fear that he starts finding ways and means to avoid the exams.

Examophobics suffer from severe stress, inability to concentrate and sudden amnesia. The symptoms may even lead to physical problems, including vomiting and diarrhoea. Continuous stress could also lead to depression.

What causes Examination Phobia?

If we take a glimpse of the causes of this phobia, we would find that the seeds of this fear are planted in the childhood itself.

1. Every individual has a different potential. He may be good at doing something and may be not for some other. This is what we call TALENT. Many parents expect more than what their child can deliver, and impose their dreams on the child. When the child is not able to fulfil their expectations, he is most of the times embarrassed by his own parents who call him INCAPABLE. Directly or indirectly he is being taunted upon. As a result, the child comes to the conclusion that if he is not able to perform to the expectations of his parents, he will always have to take the taunts and be embarrassed. As such, he is in extreme pressure during examination which actually hinders his performance.

2. There are many parents who are over-protective as far as their children are concerned. They prevent their children from mingling with other children in their society and shield them from all types of problems. This poses as an obstacle in the personality development of the child and their ability to face and cope with different life situations does not develop completely. As a result, when these children have to undergo through a stress situation, they easily get nervous. They could also face the same situation during exams.

3. The environment of the home also plays an important role. A child without parents or a child, whose parents keep quarrelling always, usually does not feel secure. This sense of insecurity keeps him under stress during the time of exams also.

4. The behaviour of some teachers is also responsible for this phobia. During practical or theoretical exams, we can find certain teachers, who are just there for the sake of being so and do not understand the students' psychology. They are more interested in knowing what the student does not know and insult them when they do not answer. As such, it is possible that students lose their confidence and they could be gripped by a strange kind of fear. They feel that they will have to pass through the same situation again in the future exams also. This fear keeps him occupied during the exams also which hinders his performance again.

Remedy for Examophobia

Examophobia is prevalent but is one of the least recognized disorders. It is very important to understand the delicate nature of this disorder as it is related to the mental health of children.

1. Parents should understand the personality traits of their child and let it develop completely before expecting high levels of performance from him. Until then, pressurising the child or embarrassing him in any way will only complicate the situation.

2. Parents should not impose their expectations and unfulfilled dreams on their child; let the parents not bring the performance of their child in their way of competition for a higher social status.

3. Parents should not be over-protective to their children. If the child faces problems, he should be encouraged to solve the problems on his own and help him only when it is necessary. This will lead to better development of the personality of the child and will enable the child to face the challenges in life in a positive manner.

4. Parents should fulfil all the demands of their children. Let the child understand the difference between his necessary and unnecessary demands. These will help the child in taking wise decisions during important and unfavourable situations in life and also stay calm at the same time.

5. Teachers should also understand child psychology. They should understand that a student's mental state is very delicate. Everything said to him has an impact on him. Teachers' should avoid embarrassing students in front of other students inside the class. Proper counselling sessions should be had with the students to understand them and their difficulties before arriving at a conclusion or commenting on them. Whenever the teachers have unfavourable confrontations with children, it is important for the teacher to ensure that the confrontation ends in a positive note and the relationship between the student and teacher is not affected. A teacher should always bear in mind that he is a creator of future of the students and not its destroyer.

6. In extreme cases, when the child is in depression, a psychiatrist or an EFT therapist should be consulted immediately to overcome this fear.

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Guest Author: STEPHEN MAINA14 Nov 2014

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