Education & Literature

    Face Examinations Without Fear

    The Hawk
    January27/ 2024
    Last Updated:

    Conquering Exam Fear: Insights from Swami Purushottamananda and Swami Vivekananda. Overcoming Anxiety, Fostering Fearlessness, and Embracing Success in Board Examinations.

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    If you are a student and are restless and nervous about the Board examinations, you are probably overcome with anxiety and fear. You find it almost impossible to concentrate, worrying that you might forget whatever you have studied so far. In a booklet titled Letter to a Student, Swami Purushottamananda discusses the crucial problem of examination fear.

    He says fear of exams is the biggest enemy of students. Under its stress, some even fall physically ill. The word ''examination fever'' has been coined in this context. Even students who have put in long hours of study become nervous at the time of exams. So, the Swami says, don''t lose heart, you can definitely gain control of the situation. To get out of the fear psychosis, Swami Purushottamananda requests students to ask themselves what they would gain by feeling afraid. For, fear brings sickness. But by being bold and brave, even an average student can do reasonably well in exams. But if a student shelters fear, it will deprive his mind and body of strength. "The only results can be this: You will ''forget'' all that you have studied while writing the exam. It is this fear that makes you write confused answers". He says, "Root out the fear complex lurking in your mind by combining self-confidence with disciplined study; have faith in your own strength and faith in your studies... The strong conviction that you would write the exams well, with a calm mind, is self-confidence. If you can develop this, fear vanishes and enthusiasm springs up in its place".

    Students can draw inspiration from the encouraging words of Swami Vivekananda, who had great faith in the power of faith. He exhorted the youth to first have faith in themselves. He said: "The history of the world is the history of a few men who had faith in themselves. That faith calls out the divinity within. You can do anything. You fail only when you do not strive sufficiently to manifest infinite power". On different occasions Swamiji emphasised that "whatever you think, that you will be. If you think yourselves weak, weak you will be; if you think yourselves strong, strong you will be". He would say: "Never say, ''I cannot'', for you are infinite. Even time and space are as nothing compared with your nature. You can do anything and everything, you are Almighty".

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    Vivekananda''s prescription for success is: "To succeed, you must have tremendous perseverance, tremendous will. ''I will drink the ocean'', says the persevering soul, ''at my will, mountains will crumble up''. Have that sort of energy, that sort of will; work hard, and you will reach the goal...". He further said: "If there is one word that you find from the Upa-nishads, bursting like a bomb-shell upon masses of ignorance, it is the word fearlessness.... Strength is life; weakness is death. Strength is felicity, life eternal, immortal; weakness is cons-tant strain and misery...".

    For students who cultivate fearlessness, and who face the exams boldly, success is waiting round the corner. True, sometimes, unfortunately, even the most hardworking and dedicated of students find that the results are not good. However, even in the worst-case scenario of failure you should not think that it is the end of the world. Swami Vivekananda has taught that there is success and failure in every work. In fact, failures make us even wiser. Constant practice makes one perfect, so no one should lose heart in the process of trying.

    For "tomorrow is another day" — with fresh hopes and opportunities, and you should look forward to taking up new challenges and responsibilities.

    —Vijay GarG Retired Principal Educational columnist malout