Is increased pressure of competitive exams leading to students’ mental health deterioration?

Several factors contribute to the stress that students experience when preparing for competitive exams

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Competitive exams stress is a very important factor impacting the students worldwide. The intense pressure to perform best in these exams and join prestigious institutions can lead to severe psychological and physical effects. In today’s educational environment, competitive exams have become a paradigm reason of stress for students. Several factors contribute to this pressure:

1.            High Stakes: Competitive exams like NEET, JEE, UPSC etc. are often seen as the only path to prestigious careers and colleges. Success in these exams tend to determine a student’s future making the stakes incredibly high.

2.            Limited Seats: With a vast number of aspirants competing for a limited number of seats, the pressure to outperform peers is overwhelming. For example, in NEET UG 2023, out of 20,87,462 students who registered only 11,45,976 qualified, highlighting the fierce competition.

3.            Parental and Societal Expectations: Parents and society often place enormous expectations on students to excel in these exams. Achieving high scores is often seen as a reflection of a student’s worth, adding to the stress.

4.            Financial Investment: Many families spend substantial amounts of money in coaching classes and study materials, adding a financial burden. The fear of not succeeding and wasting this investment further intensifies the pressure.

5.            Peer Comparison: Constant comparison with peers who may be performing better adds to the stress. This can create a sense of inadequacy and fear of lagging behind.

 Effects of Pressure:

The pressure of competitive exams can have severe repercussions on students’ mental and physical health:

1.            Mental Health Issues: The relentless pressure can lead to anxiety, depression and severe stress. Students often feel overwhelmed by the expectations held from them, leading to mental health problems.

2.            Suicide Rates: The most tragic consequence of this pressure is the increasing rate of suicides among students. The 2021 National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) report highlighted that 864 individuals under the age of 18 took their own lives due to failure in exams.


3.            Social Seclusion: The intense focus on preparation often leads to social isolation. Students may withdraw from social activities and interactions which leads to loneliness and a lack of support networks.

4.            Health Issues: The stress of preparation can also manifest physically, leading to problems such as insomnia, headaches, and other stress-related ailments.

 How It Can Be Solved:

Addressing the pressure faced by students in competitive exams requires a multifaceted approach involving educators, parents, and society at large:

1.            Redefine Success: It is crucial to redefine what success means beyond academic achievements. Recognizing and valuing skills, talents, and interests outside of traditional academic paths can help reduce the pressure on students to conform to a narrow definition of success.

2.            Increase Support Systems: Schools and colleges should provide robust mental health support, including counseling services. Regular workshops on stress management and mental health awareness can equip students with the tools to handle pressure.

3.            Parental Awareness: Parents need to be educated about the harmful effects of excessive pressure. Encouraging a supportive and understanding environment at home can make a significant difference to a student’s mental well-being.

4.            Accessible Education: Making quality education more accessible can help ease the competitive edge. This includes increasing the number of seats in prestigious institutions and improving the quality of education in lesser-known colleges.

5.            Career Counseling: Providing students with proper career guidance can help them take informed decisions about their future. Understanding that there are multiple pathways to success can reduce the pressure associated with competitive exams.

6.            Community Support: Society as a whole needs to shift its perspective on success and failure. Celebrating diverse achievements and encouraging a culture of support and empathy can help create a healthier environment for students.


In conclusion, the pressure faced by students during competitive exams is a complex issue with far-reaching consequences. By tackling the underlying causes and introducing supportive interventions, we can cultivate an educational environment where students can thrive without sacrificing their mental and physical well-being. This holistic approach will not only improve academic outcomes but also foster a generation of well-rounded, resilient individuals.