Tag Archives: Examination and Results Stress

The endless fight for that 1 mark

The endless fight for that 1 mark…

I have always loathed people who crib and beg in front of the teacher for that 1 mark. I haven’t understood the logic yet and thank god for saving me from this illogical mentality.  I think its a  blind and baseless craziness to hover around teacher’s head until they grace with an extra mark for stupid reasons like writing an extra page for a 2 marker, or a better handwriting.  I don’t know whom to blame – teachers, parents or students themselves.


Often parents and teachers use marks to judge smart from dumb. But do good marks actually reflect one’s intelligence???  Someone is good in maths, for others its a myth. So, not everyone can be weighed in one balance.

Sonal Kalra’s Tips on How to Deal with Examination Stress.

Parents ka atyachaar

Instead of relieving the stress of their kids, parents often pump up competition up till their throats until they are choked and pressurized to score a perfect 100. Why don’t students just focus on building concepts. Focus should be more on practical usage of knowledge, its implementation in real world.

Hitler Teachers

I am not against teachers rewarding good answers , but following an answer key so strictly, which actually focuses on bookish terms rather than creativity, will hamper the minds of young students, developing them into cramming robots. Teachers often encourage students to follow the book jargon, terms and cramming  like a parrot.

The Indian boards marking scheme

Our Indian CBSE board has introduced grading system for 10th boards, relieving those vexed nerves of students.  Now our little nervous minds can focus more on content rather than cribbing about perfect 10 answers. But limiting this system to 10th standard marking system does not solve the problem in real sense. They still will have to face the 12th boards with the same marking scheme which will instill a sense of discrimination among students.

Being Calm

We need to be calm, composed and give our young minds, some time to relax, and ponder over where their talent and passion lies. I am sure after that there will not be a war for that one extra mark, because every one will be confident and perfect.

The Rancho funda

In the end , I would like to quote a  dialogue from Amir khan’s 3 idiot: ‘Do not chase after success,chase after excellence and success will chase after you’!!

So all my friends, please relax before exams, give your best shot !! Kamyaabi tumhare peechhe jhakk marke zaroor ayegi… 🙂

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A calmer you: an open letter to the cut-off list

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My dear list, am not sure if I need to ask if you are doing well because we all know how high you stay most of the time. I’ve always wanted to ask you how it feels to have a name like ‘cut-off.’ Because, you know, in us humans, we have names that tend to have positive meanings, not ones that bring-in violent imagery in the head. Though it may just be interesting for some to be named such, like Terminator Chaddha, but let’s not take away your uniqueness.  Am sure you are aware of, and enjoying being in the news headlines these days. Who doesn’t want their very mention to create ripples? But do you know that most of us deeply dislike you for the immense stress you have been giving us over the years? You are the number one stress point right now for lakhs of students who are spending sleepless nights fearing you would come in the way of them getting admission into a college. You are not going to like it, but today I’m going to tell those students, and their equally anxious parents, to not give too much importance to you. Sorry, I know your ego will be hurt but then you stay so high, you can manage it! So here’s the deal..

A calmer you an open letter to the cut-off list

“Not getting what you want is sometimes a wonderful stroke of luck”: Dalai Lama

1. There was life before you, and there is life beyond you: The parents who are today on the edge of their seats while their children ride the rollercoaster of college admission process would remember that there used to be no dreaded cut-off lists during their time. But there was still fierce competition… the world was still called cut-throat… and that all of them still managed to do something fairly good with their lives. Those parents today have the opportunity to give the best gift ever to their children — the faith that no matter how many admission lists don’t carry their name, something good is ultimately written in their destiny. It’s just a little far for them to see it right now and feel reassured. As I keep reminding, God has a plan for each and every one of us, and sometimes that’s all we need to know.

2. Disappointments are temporary: All of them. I know of a couple who was apparently severely disappointed when their son didn’t get admission in class nursery in the school they thought was the best. ‘Ek baar yeh ho jaata toh life set thi,’ is what his dad told my father at that time. Anyhow, the child got through in another school where he excelled in studies all through and got 91% in class XII board exams, 14 years later. ‘Bure nahi hain, but these days students are getting 95-96%’ is what his evidently disappointed mom said, when the result was announced. The boy studied like a maniac for engineering entrance but couldn’t clear the IIT exam. ‘Ek baar yeh ho jaata toh life set thi’, repeated the dad, after 15 years of uttering the same sentence. Anyhow, after doing engineering in a regional college and a couple of years of job hopping, the boy was recently hired by an IT giant that offered him a record-high salary package. ‘So, how is it going?’ I asked his beaming dad the other day. ‘Ekdum badiya. Life set hai,’ he replied. I wish he knew that life was set the day his son was born. Disappointments don’t stay for long. The way we feel about them today is not how we will feel about them a few years later. So, why let them bog us down?


3. Success is never about the college… it’s about the person: It’s not really needed for research to say this but since some people believe a statement only when ‘scientific studies show’ precedes it, let me inform you that scientific studies the world over have shown that there is absolutely no correlation between which college a person studied in and his/her ultimate success in the career. And right now, I’m sticking to success, not even saying happiness, because there’s no correlation between these two either. When one reads about a student of IIT or AIIMS committing suicide because of depression, or highly ‘successful’ CEOs dying of stress induced cardiac arrests at the age of 40, you begin to wonder if we even know what we are aiming to achieve by being in this mad race of competition. Success doesn’t come from the name of the college written on your degree. Heck, if I’m not wrong, the college’s name is not even mentioned on the degree issued by a university. Success comes from how meaningfully you are utilising the knowledge gained from the classes you attended, no matter in whichever college building. At the end of the day, buildings are all that colleges are. Your success, and ultimately happiness, can only come from within you. Coming back to you my dear dreaded list, the walls on which you are so vainly stuck may differ from one college building to another, but the temporariness of your relevance remains unchanged. No matter how many colleges reject admission to a student because of you, he would remain the person that he was. You can make him anxious and take away his sleep for a night or two, but you can’t take away his destiny if he chooses to be successful and happy. That’s the permanence of our victory over you. Now get off our backs, please

Sonal Kalra changed three colleges in the first three months of taking admission. Because somehow she didn’t like their buildings enough.

The Never-Ending Examination Stress [Do’s and Dont’s]

We come across a number of seasons in a year: Spring, summer, autumn, winter, festive. Each one of them comes just once in 365 days. So, we enjoy them to the utmost extent & wait for their arrival one after the other. My write-up is neither on the four seasons that we studied in Geography & neither on the fifth season which wakes up the ghost of shopping in the people. It is actually on the “EXAM SEASON”. A season which students, nevertheless of which class or age they are, would never want to come across in their lives. Literally writing, students feel it to be the most “unpleasant season” of the year & is the only season which luckily (for toppers) or unluckily (for all others) repeats itself more than once a year.


Wikipedia defines exam as “a test to show the ability of a student.” But, actually this test turns out to be a “disability” for the students when, their brain goes blank in exams or they suffer from a nervous breakdown at or immediately before the exams. Further, every student (including me) brings a change in the daily lifestyle during exams. As an example, being kids, friends usually tell each other that “my mother has kept my video game console in her cupboard till my exams end.” Another friend replies that “my mother has banned my T.V. or movie viewing & playing too till exams.”Being teenagers or adults we say, “I won’t login to facebook or send any SMSes in the exam season.”Adding to the list are a bunch of people who ask psychologists, counselors and teachers to give them some calmness & relaxation tips and even list of questions appearing in the exam so that, somehow they can jump to the next class, even if they didn’t study for the entire semester.

Taking you to the examination hall, I came across two girls at the examination center recently during my Chartered Accountancy exams, who used to sit next to each other and prepared 50% syllabus each, in order to reduce the syllabus burden, and pass the exam by this unconventional cheating style. Now please don’t try this style in your exams because although you might pass the exam today, you might suffer in your professional life at a later stage.

The very purpose of exams is just testing the “KNOWLEDGE” which somehow is not actually & completely obtained by the students, either because of the education system which aims at giving knowledge to the students mostly by textual means & in a theoretical manner or, the examination system which aims at testing the knowledge obtained in a year in a Three-hour examination & declares your competency merely by way of marks & grades, no matter how much creative or intelligent you might be practically.

Well, I am not the Education Minister (neither I want to be) who can bring a reform in the education & examination system, nor I am Baba Ranchordas Chanchad who can take a Panga with Mr. VIRUS & teach him how to teach. What we can actually do is change the attitude towards exams as follows:-

1.Fear the fear

Haan Haan, I know that I have copied the heading of this point but what can I do? Lakh Samjhao sabko phir bhi nahi samajh aati. You drink cans of Mountain Dew but still forget that “Darr Ke Aage Jeet Hai.” We give a number of exams in our life but whenever the next exam comes we ask the same questions to ourselves or to others, i.e., “Do we know the exam?”, “How will the exam go?”,”Will I be able to complete it in time?” etc. etc. My dear! I can give you a list of a number of such questions which you can use to kill your confidence, but, if you really want to succeed in exams, focus on the subject questions, not on stupid ones. Dimaag ko Dahi(curd) nahi, Sahi karo.

2.“Is this important?” gang

When I gave my Class 12 Board Examinations, the school authorities used to send a teacher from the school. The students used to gather around the teacher and ask him/her “Is this important? Is that important?” The teacher always had the same answer, “Ya! There is a possibility that it might appear in the paper” & the gang used to turn the pages of their notes in a hurry as if the teacher had fixed the exam and was 100% sure as to the appearance of that particular question in the exam. Result: The question never used to appear in the exam but the “possibility of its appearance” words of the teacher used to upset the students at the last moment.
Remember that when the aim of life is gaining knowledge, everything that we learnt was important & what we missed was also important, but, exam can contain only a part of the total content. What percentage of your knowledge appears in the exam is entirely a matter of luck.

[stextbox id=”info”]Also Read, What advice Sonal Kalra has to give for all the students suffering from Examination & results phobia.[/stextbox]

3.The Owl Gang

Are you among the people who study the entire night before exam and give the exam next day? Just tell me how much time did you take to grasp a concept one night before the exam and what portion of it were you actually able to reproduce in the exam? You didn’t have an answer in the exam and you don’t have an answer now just because what you were trying to do by being an owl is reduce the exam stress by making an effort to grasp more concepts, but, not being able to do the same due to the brain unrest, you get stressed the night before exam and ultimately in the exam too.

Trying to grasp concepts a night before the exam, we just have an illusion of gaining knowledge, but in reality, the airplanes of knowledge are flying in the dark sky of our brain which becomes dark due to breaking of the law of nature and that is the law of “Rest is the best, near the test.”

4.The Discussion Gang

Step out of your examination hall after the exam and you will find a number of groups discussing the question paper, trying to make an estimate of their score, the computation of which is never made like the way students make it. If your exam has went well as per your thinking, but, still you don’t want to keep that smile on your face, please do join one of these groups as even if you are going to top in the exam, they will not let you do that.

The evaluation of answer sheets or any exam is based on a number of factors unknown to the students. You never know if an evaluator might give you an extra mark for handwriting when you have already scored 99 in the paper.

5.The Interviewing Family

The child reaches home after a three hour examination from his institution and the interviewers waiting for him/her at the home start the rapid fire round i.e. How was your paper? How much did you attempt? What do you expect the score to be? What was the view of your classmates and your competitor in particular about the exam?

Dear Madame and/or Sir, the viewing of exams as something stressful by your child has a lot to do with these questions. These questions are much more difficult to answer than the exam ones as the answer to these questions depends solely on the will of the examiner, but, still your child is forced to give a ‘positive answer’ by your repeated questioning. A positive answer because he knows that giving a negative one might add petrol to your already aggressive behavior, which turned aggressive because he couldn’t answer a one mark question due to a lengthy exam and short time. So, why ask when he doesn’t know?

6.The writer’s role

Don’t know an answer or have a little knowledge about it? This is the situation when you can play the role of a writer. Sometimes beautiful writings of authors do emerge from a single word or a simple phrase or a one-time observation. If you have a meager knowledge about a concept, but, you do have it, write what you can by giving it a serious thought rather than wasting time in copying from others or writing irrelevant content in the exam. For an instance, when I sat to write this write-up, I didn’t search any books or encyclopedia but, tried to convert my observations into a sequence of words. To what extent I was successful in my attempt and to what extent my point is valid can be ascertained only from your feedback.

All the Best for every exam of your life!

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There is no end to education. It is not that you read a book, pass an examination, and finish with education. The whole of life, from the moment you are born to the moment you die, is a process of learning.

– Jiddu Krishnamurti. 


So whose cat is out of the bag?

I’m writing this in a very angry mood. Achha bhala socha tha (I had very well thought), of funny topics to write about this week and suddenly this stupid CAT jumped out of the bag and spoilt so many peoples’ moods. A lot of you have written to me about how unhappy and disappointed you — and those who claim to love you but actually love how well you do in a test— are with your scores in the MBA entrance exam.

Well, sorry to note that you are sad but there is nothing I have to say to you. Simply nothing. I’ve got tired of writing, several times in this column itself, about how I have little faith in the very concept of examinations —of any kind— as a measure of how well your life will turn out to be. Because, believe me, for every disappointed person who perhaps flunked some hi-fi exam, there are three ‘successful and yet depressed’ people waiting for their turn on the shrink’s couch. So if you still insist on making exam results or admissions as your index for happiness and self-worth in life, you deserve the misery.


Anyway, as I said, today’s column is not for students who gave the exam and did or didn’t score well. It’s not even for their parents who are either distributing sweets or avoiding relatives, depending on the results. Today’s column is for an entity called log or ‘people’, as they are the root cause of many a heartburn. “Sab ‘log’ result poochh rahe hain (everyone is asking the result), and I feel like crying,” writes Trisha, going into a long account of how she’s avoiding family functions because everyone would ask her how she did in the exam. These log comprise you and me — relatives, neighbours, colleagues — people who have no direct bearing on someone’s exam results but knowingly or unknowingly make their lives hell by showing interest in it.
Sir, koi kaam nahi hai aapke paas? (don’t you have any work) How can you not realise that your stupid, and mostly fake, interest, in someone’s life may rob them of their moments of happiness in the best age of their lives. Here, I want you to look into my eyes and take the following three pledges with me. Trust me, if you follow these, today someone else’s child will thank you silently and someday your own will love you for it.

 [stextbox id=”info”]Pledge 1: I’ll never ask anyone how they did in exams[/stextbox]

If someone wants to share the good/bad news of their exam result with you, they’ll do it anyway. Please don’t be under the impression that by remembering to ask what percentage someone’s son or daughter scored, you are showing that you care about them. Bull.Shit. You couldn’t care less about their percentile or whatever it’s called, but so often there’s no other topic of conversation, so the moment you meet the offspring of a relative you may not even have met in years, you shoot off typical questions like: kaunsi class mein padte ho? (In which class do you study) Oh you have board exams this year…hmmm…that’s serious (as if it’s a disease), exams over? result aa gaya? kaisa raha? (is the result out? how was it?)
In all probability, you will forget what they answered before you finish off your next gulab-jamun, but unknowingly, you may have touched somebody’s raw nerve and made a young boy or girl experience some anxious moments while answering your questions. Admit it. You don’t give a damn if they scored 62 percent or 82 percent or 102 percent (that day might also come at the rate things are going). You just asked for the heck of it.

Koi aur topic nahi hai?
(is there no other topic) Talk about their interests, something nice that they are wearing, something as silly as the weather…any damn thing. It need not always be related to their studies. Believe me, helping someone be relaxed and at-ease in a conversation is the biggest virtue. Adopt it.

 [stextbox id=”info”]Pledge 2: I will not be an uninvited career-counsellor[/stextbox]

Since advising is our national hobby, I can’t tell you not to indulge into it sometimes, but please keep a healthy check on it, if possible. For some strange reason, a lot of people derive pleasure in believing that they are most qualified to tell someone what to do with their life. But at least wait till someone asks you. In most households, there are differences of opinion between parents and teenagers about what course or career choice to pursue. Aise mein, some guests try and take sides with either of them just to score points.
Adding fuel to someone’s fire will not fetch you anything, my friend. If there is a genuine insight you can contribute in helping someone reach a decision, please do. But don’t make vague statements like ‘Engineering kar lo. Wahi best hai,’ (do engineering. That’s the best) when the poor guy may be at war with his folks as he wants to be a musician.
Remember, every word we casually utter adds to an unsaid pressure on the mind of someone who is going through a phase of confusion and turmoil. Don’t make it worse for them.

 [stextbox id=”info”]Pledge 3: I will know when to shut-up[/stextbox]

I’ve been told that this column has a huge readership. In so many followers, I’m sure there is someone who knows someone higher up in our central board of education. Mujhe ek sifaarish lagwaani hai (I want to give one suggestion). I want to pitch that at the elementary level, every Indian is made to compulsorily undertake a course on ‘when to shut-up’. Seriously. We’ll become a developed nation…or at least a happier nation, if we get this one thing firmly in our heads.
Koi sunta hi nahi (No one listens), everyone’s busy giving an opinion. All.The.Time. In the context of today’s topic, if we are at least observant enough to notice the moment when our interest in someone’s exam results turns them uncomfortable, and stop pursuing that line of discussion, we would attain nirvana. I’m sick of people who get so absorbed in listening to their own voice that they become insensitive to their audiences’ feelings. The next time you ignore the evident body language of a young child who is not comfortable giving you the subject wise break-up of his/her marks in front of the entire clan, I will personally pay the under-world and take out your supari.
Be sensitive, yaar. Did you enjoy discussing your report card with near strangers when you were a student? I’m sure not. (Are you saying ‘yes’ because you topped every exam?….what a scum you are).
Don’t ever do anything that made you nervous and uncomfortable while growing up, to another person’s child. Never to yours too!
Sonal Kalra takes the pledge of never writing about exam results again. Whether your Cat ever jumps out of the bag or not, is not her business.