Chandigarh-based counsellor for The Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE), Madhu Bahl in an interview tells how to cope with exam-related stress
Which numbers have been made available for telephonic counselling? And what are the timings for these helplines?
A toll-free number has been put up on the CBSE website. The idea is to help students in coping with stress, irrespective of the time. Students can also approach me in person between 12 pm and 4 pm every day, or call me any time.
How long will the helpline be operational?
Counselling will be provided in two phases. The first phase involves the kind of counselling that is provided to students before and during examinations. The second phase will be about post-examination counselling and will continue till April 22.
How is pre-examination counselling different from post-examination counselling?
Before and during examinations, students call us because they are stressed about how to go about preparing and how to deal with the stress of writing board examinations. We counsel them about their learning systems, their teaching systems, and their overall preparation for the exams.
After the examinations, we provide them with career counselling on the basis of the marks they have secured and their abilities and interests.
Is the helpline open for parents, too?
Yes. Harried parents call us when they are unable to deal with their children. Sometimes, children refuse to seek help on their own, and parents end up calling on their behalf. As per our observations, a majority of parents end up calling around the time when the results are declared.
How many calls do you end up receiving daily?
Once children become aware of the helpline numbers and their regional counsellors, we get a minimum of 40-50 calls daily. The number increases drastically 7-10 days before the examinations are to begin.
What are the kind of problems that students cite, and how are these dealt with?
We get calls from students who do not study throughout the year and end up panicking as the exams get closer. In such a case, we deal with the child step-by-step. We first try and get an idea of how much he/she has studied.
After that, we help the student to learn only specific chapters to make sure that he/she, at least, gets the passing marks. We do not want students to waste a year due to lack of preparation.
We also get calls from students who say that they cannot recall what they have studied. We help them calm down and give them tips on dealing with stress.
Is there any problem that many students end up calling with?
Peer pressure bogs down a majority of students. They always believe that other students have studied more than they have, making them anxious. In such a case, we recommend students to avoid talking too much about how much others have prepared.
It is very important to guide students out of this peer pressure; otherwise, they may get demoralised and even forget what they have learnt.
Students face this kind of pressure not only from their peers, but also from their parents. There are instances when parents, who have not been involved with their ward’s studies throughout the year, end up pressuring their children to perform exceptionally well. They even pressurise their wards to give up everything and just study. This also leads to students losing their mental balance; we help parents in understanding how to support their children.
What are the kind of calls you get post examinations?
Many times, students expect a result but do not end up getting the same. In such cases, we get calls from concerned parents as well, and then we personally talk to these students and help them in figuring out a career plan. There are times when students get compartments, too, and we help them with their reevaluation applications, if needed. We also guide them with the dates for taking their examinations again. Additionally, some students call us seeking career advice, so we keep them informed of which colleges they should apply to, and their respective application deadlines.
Any major advice that is given to students through this helpline?
We often advise students to make sure that they write and practise what they learn. It is very crucial for students to solve sample papers before examinations to realise how fast or slow they are, and whether they are capable of completing their papers in the allotted time. Students might know it all, but many do not have the speed to finish within the stipulated time.
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