Four million students across Turkey have entered the home stretch before a series of high-stakes nationwide exams that will determine their educational careers.
With just a few days left for the high school placement exam (to be held this Saturday, June 20) and less than two weeks left for the two-stage university entrance exams (June 27-28), students are starting to feel the pressure and are nervously waiting to get it over with.
As if these exams weren't stressful enough (after all, they will determine which schools they will go to and what they will study), this year exam-takers have also been presented a new challenge: taking a test during a pandemic.
The changes this extraordinary situation has caused in our daily lives and education system have also caused a spike in stress, anxiety and concern among students as well as parents.
Child and adolescent psychiatrist professor Seher Akbaş from Liv Hospital offers some key advice to parents in dealing with their children's exam anxiety.
What is exam anxiety?
Anxiety is the state of physical, emotional and mental hyperalertness experienced by a person in the face of a stimulus, which in this case is the exam and the coronavirus.
In the case of exam-induced anxiety, children may experience this state of emotional distress before, during and after the exam.
Contrary to popular belief, the exam itself does not cause stress; however, the way the exam is perceived by the exam-taker is what leads to anxiety. This is why we see some students being cool as cucumbers while taking exams and getting satisfactory results, while others are riddled with crippling anxiety which ultimately leads them to fail.
Children and adolescents have a tendency to exaggerate or interpret every negative development they encounter as a full-blown disaster, which is an unreasonable belief that a worrisome situation will turn out terrible, accompanied by high levels of anxiety. Such individuals then see the exam as a threat or dangerous situation, which causes anxiety. The mind is constantly occupied by negative thoughts such as post-exam disappointment and keeps creating scenarios about what will happen during and after the exam that this just leads to even more stress and anxiety.
Why do some experience exam anxiety and others don't?
Here are the tips Akbaş recommends to parents in coping with anxiety: