Anxiety Me, Myself and I Reflections

The dreaded HSC results

December 14, 2011

The Higher School Certificate results (Year 12) are out today for students across NSW. And boy, does it bring back memories!

About 10 years ago, around May-June, I remember receiving my HSC results back in India. Even more anxiety-provoking than that were my School Certificate results (Year 10). I remember being pleasantly surprised with my Year 10 results and upset at my English marks (Yes, I cried!). I also remember being very unhappy with my HSC results and worrying whether I would get Psychology as one of my subject options for my B.A.

I still remember having to give my HSC exams. I threw up the morning of my Economics paper. I was anxious during my Maths and Psychology exams. I also remember the day I had Sociology and Maths on the same day…I don’t think I was able to feel my hands after that! [I was never good at giving exams! Anxiety tended to get to me] I would always work hard but somehow, with some papers, the nerves would win and I would blank out. I would forget what I had learnt.

To cut a long story short, I hated exams. I never understood the need to learn things by rote. And I would without fail let anxiety get the better of me [Hell, that even happened in my Third year B.A. exams!]

And now, I see clients going through similar issues.

The thing that no one…particularly teachers…tells you back when you are sitting for your HSC or SSC exams is this — there is more to life than these exams! And no one, no one asks you for your marks when you go for a job interview! And how you go in these exams doesn’t determine how you go at university! Instead, the mantra from teachers and parents appears to be that if you don’t do well, your life is finished. And you know what? Sadly, some youngsters take it to heart.

Why can’t parents and teachers just tell adolescents that they should work hard and leave it at that? Why the catastrophic threats? And especially in countries like Australia where there are so many options even if you don’t get a great HSC result!

But yet, I see time and again, young people constantly worried about their HSC. Thinking if they don’t do well it will be the end of the world. And having to explain to these sceptical youngsters that they do have options. That maybe, if they don’t get into Sydney Uni, does not mean they won’t get into any uni. That their severe anxiety is only going to hinder their final performance. That the HSC is not testing your true abilities but rather your ability to memorise and write quickly.

If only I had been told that.

I probably would not have wasted so many hours of my life throwing up and catastrophising.

If only…

How did you go with exams? Do you have any memorable moments to share?

Until next time,


You Might Also Like


  • Reply Ketchup Girl December 14, 2011 at 9:26 AM

    I was one of those lucky few- my parents only asked me to study to understand and know. They never pushed me to perform. I  got a measly 76 percent when compared to the 90’s and 95 percents around me. Dad distributed sweets in his office saying his daughter did fabulously. That was SSC. The pressure to perform was so little that I naturally outsmarted people in my class 12 exam. I topped effortlessly. That was when dad distributed sweets in the entire housing complex we lived in :D.

  • Reply Bikram December 14, 2011 at 12:14 PM

    I rememebr I was in india and I called my school  and asked them one question forget the marks etc or grades just tell me HAve i passed .. that was enough for me 🙂 


  • Reply Magali December 14, 2011 at 2:02 PM

    So true. This is comforting. 🙁
    Though I am lazy & always let anxiety get the better of me during results.

  • Reply Psych Babbler December 15, 2011 at 12:12 AM

    You were lucky KG! I did have pressure during my SSC and I did pretty well then (despite the anxiety). My parents stopped pressurising me after that but I ended up putting a lot of pressure on myself to perform and it only went downhill from there. The irony is they were very pleased with my TYBA results while I was hugely disappointed! Go figure…

  • Reply Psych Babbler December 15, 2011 at 12:52 AM

    That’s great Bikram…for me back then it was the marks sadly!

  • Reply Raindrop December 15, 2011 at 3:46 AM

    I was one of the rare nerds who actually enjoyed giving exams (not including Maths), but still HATED the pressure on me to perform. I would’ve learnt more if not for the expectations!  

    I have decided that when I have kids (assuming there will be more than one 🙂 ), I’m NOT going to pressurize them for marks. The focus will be learning and enjoying what they learn. 

    We have only one life to live!

  • Reply Psych Babbler December 15, 2011 at 3:53 AM

    Honestly Mags…no one asks for HSC marks when we apply for jobs so it does make you wonder why there is so much emphasis put on it! It’s a skewed system anyway in that it really doesn’t assess our true abilities!

  • Reply Psych Babbler December 15, 2011 at 6:08 AM

    Oh wow Raindrop…you actually *enjoyed* the exams? You are one of a kind! 😀 I agree in terms of the focus being on learning and enjoying what we learn…honestly, I cannot remember half of what I learnt over the years but during my post-grad studies here with fewer exams and more essays and reports and presentations, I learnt so much more!

  • Reply Smita Saxena December 15, 2011 at 10:39 AM

    Nah nothing memorable !! No wait, it was my 12th exam and 1st paper was english and I threw up early morning so took some rest. Got up an hour before the exam saw some words for Synonyms and when I went in for the exam of the 10 words that had come in synonym section 8 were the ones which i had studied an hour back 😀

    But besides that exams were an unnecessary inconvenience for me 😉 Never really worried or anxious about them! Guess my luck sailed me through 😉

    But you are right exams shouldn’t made a kids life, there is much more in lifebesides exmas. Sadly not all parents understand that!

  • Reply Psych Babbler December 17, 2011 at 12:26 AM

    I like that term Smita — “unnecessary inconvenience”! 🙂 Sounds like there was more than luck though…I’m sure you worked hard too… 😀

  • Reply Scribbyscribs December 27, 2011 at 4:48 AM

    you’re right…though studies are important and scoring good marks is equally important but then this is not the end of the world, especially when these days you’ve to take up entrance exams for all kind of courses! also,it’s necessary that you do really well in your area of comfort and choice…that’s what is going to make your life and your career!

    I hope the coming generations get the right gyaan from their teachers/peers and family too!

    coming to exams: I never dreaded exams and there was a saying back then that only 2 kind of people don’t fear exams-one who know all and the other who know nothing 😛 and yes belonged to the latter one 😉 hehehe having said that I always scored 65-70 % to which parents and friends always said ‘if without studying you can score this much then why not study and score 90%?’ you know!!! but I was always a carefree types..never taking much tension about the exams and scoring…

    though the results did give me slight jitters cause I was never sure what would appear in the report cards/mark sheets since I always thought I have done bad in exams!

  • Reply Psych Babbler December 27, 2011 at 9:01 PM

    Oh yes…how can I forget the entrance exams (possibly because I never had to take one!) But those are another pressure test on their own! I’m impressed by your performance Scribby…did you get the comments about not working up to your potential?? I did…not because I didn’t try but because my anxiety always got the better of me and showed in my poor marks!

  • Reply Scribbyscribs December 29, 2011 at 7:32 AM

    oh yes remarks like ‘can do better’ were like permanent on my reports back then 😀

  • Reply Psych Babbler December 29, 2011 at 8:02 AM

    Haha…they always do that, don’t they? I remember my school results from around the 8th to the 10th always had “Very good performance in English but can improve in Maths, Science, Hindi blah blah blah….”

  • Leave a Reply

    CommentLuv badge

    %d bloggers like this: