Exam pressure tells on kids and parents in Kolkata

The absence of in-person classes for close to two years since March 2020 may have made the situation too difficult to handle for a number of examinees

Jhinuk Mazumdar Published 23.02.23, 06:41 AM
Representational file image

Representational file image

The board exam season is on and with it has come the pressure on students to perform.

The current batch of Class XII students is facing the pressure to excel in board exams for the first time because the Covid pandemic had forced the authorities to scrap the Class X boards two years ago.


They are now back to facing what their seniors have all gone through.

For many, the pressure is exacerbated by parents, sometimes because of their own expectations and aspirations.

At least two mental health professionals said they have been seeing students in the run-up to the boards because the parents think “the children are taking it too easy”.

A mother called on a psychiatrist because she felt her daughter was not concentrating on studies and that scoring “a mere 90” was not enough.

Another parent consulted a psychiatrist because he felt his son, a board examinee, was “wasting” an hour a week playing the guitar. The boy is among the top 10 in a reputable school.

“The parental expectation is high.... And, as a consequence, children suffer from tremendous anxiety,” said psychiatrist Rima Mukherji.

“The children feel they have to be a trophy or else they would not be accepted. There is tremendous anger towards parents.”

Mukherji’s organisation has made a series of online skits in the exam season that show how highly invested parents create pressure on their children by trying to ensure their success.

“Parents’ expectations and aspirations build pressure on their children,” said Mukherji.

Both ISC (Class XII) and CBSE Class XII exams are under way.

The past two years, the pressure to perform was not as much because either exams were not held or they were split into semesters.

“Students had a lucky break but the pressure is back again on them. Not all children can take it in their stride,” said Amita Prasad, director of Indus Valley World School.

Prasad said the declaration of the JEE (Joint Entrance Examination) Main results, session I, has only heightened the pressure on a section of students.

“Those who have not performed well in the JEE are under added pressure while they are in the throes of another major exam,” said Prasad.

Parents were overly involved in their children’s academics in the last two years and now they cannot let go, said psychiatrist Sanjay Garg. “They were supervising their children throughout and now they feel they need to do it even more.”

Instances of parents taking leave for their children’s exams or making comments like their “blood pressure is shooting up” because of the exams creates even more pressure on the youngsters, psychiatrists said.

Hilda Peacock, former principal of La Martiniere of Girls and now a consultant for a number of schools, too, blamed parents for the pressure. She spoke of “unrealistic expectations” of parents, peers and society.

The absence of in-person classes for close to two years since March 2020 may have made the situation too difficult to handle for a number of examinees.

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