Building Confidence: Easing Exam Stress for Student Well-being | Teen Ink

Building Confidence: Easing Exam Stress for Student Well-being

March 25, 2024
By stephaniebossolina BRONZE, Saratoga, California
stephaniebossolina BRONZE, Saratoga, California
1 article 0 photos 0 comments

Exams serve as a significant source of stress for students, a normal occurrence that, when overly prevalent, can have adverse effects on mental health. The fear of failure amplifies this stress, as individuals grapple with the anxiety of underperforming and potentially disappointing themselves or others. The impact of this lack of self-confidence on test-taking abilities is highlighted by a study conducted by UCLA, which estimates that 40-60% of students experience negative effects due to test anxiety. While a certain degree of stress is anticipated in the context of exams, addressing and mitigating the fear of failure becomes crucial for promoting overall mental well-being among students.
In examining the broader landscape, the National Library of Medicine identifies exam stress as a potential trigger for mental ill-health, particularly in medical students. This concern is likely not exclusive to medical students but rather extends to individuals across various academic disciplines.
Moreover, the survey results reported by The Daily Universe provide a snapshot of the widespread impact of exam stress on students. A staggering 64 percent express worry about how this stress may negatively affect their grades and academic performance. This heightened anxiety not only contributes to increased stress levels but also fosters self-doubt, ultimately affecting academic outcomes.
Also, in a research study conducted by students at Florida State University, the investigation sheds light on the influences of environmental factors on test anxiety among elementary school students. The study delves into the intricate factors contributing to students' stress during assessments, offering valuable insights into the shared genetic and environmental influences between test anxiety and reading comprehension. Remarkably, the findings reveal that even elementary school students experience test anxiety.

Building upon this research, it becomes evident that young students frequently grapple with heightened anxiety before assessments, negatively impacting their overall well-being and hindering academic performance. The elementary school years, particularly grades 1-3, represent a crucial phase in a child's formative years, essential for their mental development. Consequently, anxiety during this period can severely impede a child's mental growth.
At the heart of these challenges lies the issue of confidence. According to the American Bar Association, over 85% of the population suffers from low self-esteem. Even renowned figures such as Marilyn Monroe, John Lennon, and Oprah Winfrey, who have achieved greatness in their respective fields, admitted to struggling with low self-esteem. Notably, Kim Kardashian, celebrated for her confidence, revealed that she, too, faced insecurities about her body during her upbringing.
In an article by Psychology Today, Dr. Barbara Markway, a clinical psychologist, states that “self-confidence is linked to almost every element involved in a happy and fulfilling life.” This includes experiencing less fear and anxiety, greater motivation, enhanced resilience, improved relationships, and a stronger sense of one's authentic self. Dr. Markway highlights that as confidence grows, individuals become more capable of calming the inner voice that says, "I can't do it," leading to a reduction in anxiety. Additionally, confidence fosters greater motivation, as individuals take small steps toward accomplishments, leading to a lasting sense of achievement. The skills and coping methods gained through confidence also contribute to increased resilience in handling setbacks and failure.
Therefore, addressing the root cause of confidence issues becomes imperative in fostering resilience and well-being among students, thereby mitigating the adverse effects of exam-related stressors.
Dr, Markway isn’t the only one to point this out. In a book called The Confident Mind: A Battle-Tested Guide to Unshakable Performance by Dr. Nate Zinsser, a renowned sports psychologist and Director of West Point’s Performance Psychology Program, the significance of confidence is further explored. Zinsser's work delves into the realm of peak performance across various fields, drawing on examples from sports, corporate environments, and the military. Specifically, he dives into the concept of the 'First Victory,” emphasizing the importance of conquering internal battles with self-doubt, fear, and uncertainty before facing external challenges—a principle resonating with the struggles students face during exams.

​​As a student, I too grapple with test anxiety. The pressure of having to complete an exam within a limited timeframe was enough to induce stress of its own, not to mention the fear of failure that accompanied it. The anticipation of underperforming led to a peculiar phenomenon – I would literally forget everything I had meticulously studied when faced with the exam paper.
The aftermath of receiving my graded tests was equally perplexing. As I reviewed the questions I had missed, I often found myself thinking, "I knew the answer to this!" It became clear that the anxiety during the test had a peculiar ability to temporarily erase the knowledge that was, in fact, securely tucked away in my brain.

Frustrated by this recurring pattern, I decided to experiment with a different approach. Inspired by the idea of boosting self-confidence, I consciously worked on shifting my mindset. Instead of succumbing to the fear of failure, I started telling myself, "I can do this" and genuinely believing in my ability to excel. It was a simple yet powerful adjustment to my study routine.
To my surprise, this change in perspective yielded positive results. During the next set of exams, I found myself recalling information more easily and approaching each question with a newfound confidence. The shift in mindset not only helped me overcome the fear of failure but also allowed me to showcase my true understanding of the subject matter.

So, during your next examination, when the anxiety begins to creep in, take a moment to inhale deeply and declare with confidence, "I can do this." Embrace the belief in your abilities, because, from personal experience, it can make a remarkable difference in your performance.
In a research study done by students of Florida State University it sheds light on the influences of environmental factors on test anxiety among elementary school students. Shedding light on the intricate factors contributing to students' stress during assessments. While the study provides valuable insights into the shared genetic and environmental influences between test anxiety and reading comprehension, it also shows that even elementary school students suffer from test anxiety. Research indicates that young students often grapple with heightened anxiety before assessments, which can detrimentally impact their overall well-being and hinder academic performance. The elementary school years especially 1-3 grade is toward the end of a child's formative years, which is essential for  This stage can significantly impact the mental development of a child; therefore anxiety at this time can severely impact the mental growth of a child therefore Fostering a positive learning environment that encourages self-assurance and resilience could play a crucial role in mitigating the adverse impact of exam-related stressors on elementary school students. 


Word Cited
1.     Blood, S. (2015, May 20). College students struggle with exam stress and anxiety. The Daily
2.     Fritz, J., Stochl, J., Kievit, R. A., Harmelen, A.-L. van, & Wilkinson, P. O. (2021). Tracking Stress, Mental Health, and Resilience Factors in Medical Students Before, During, and After a Stress-Inducing Exam Period: Protocol and Proof-of-Principle Analyses for the RESIST Cohort Study. JMIR Formative Research, 5(6), e20128.
3.     Howlett, R., & Sharp, C. (2022, February 22). The Legal Burnout Solution: How to improve self-esteem. American Bar Association.
4.     Markway, B. (2018, September 20). Why self-confidence is more important than you think. Psychology
Pham, H. (n.d.). A Student’s Perspective on Test Anxiety. UCLA Center for Mental Health in Schools.

The author's comments:

My name is Stephanie Bossolina, and I am a junior at The Harker School. I am writing to submit my essay on the topic Psychology of student stress. I believe this easy offers valuable insight into the complexities of student stress and its implications. .

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