Senior Four candidates are already writing Uganda Certificate of Education (UCE) exams while Senior Six and Primary Seven candidates will be doing so soon. Such periods are characterised by candidates collapsing dead, fainting, fever, and some developing complications.
Joan Nakalembe, a Bachelor of psychology student at Makerere University Kampala collapsed during an examination session and died on her way to hospital.
Students say she fainted while sitting her exam and they instantly rushed her to the University Hospital in a critical condition. Medics at the university could not handle the situation and she was instead referred to Kiruddu Hospital in Makindye.
Unfortunately she died on the way. Her close friends revealed that before entering the examination room, she was complaining about stomach ache.
Nakalembe was unlucky that she died perhaps of a health related condition. However, there are many students who develop abrupt health complication during examination time often referred to examination fever. However, candidates can be prepared to deal with such setups.
Why one might breakdown
Shallon Ainembabazi, a counsellor, says it is human to be nervous whenever you are going to sit for final exams or job interviews. However, the degree of uneasiness varies from one individual to another. Some people become mildly anxious while for others, it becomes severe and life threatening.
She highlights some of the reasons candidates might develop snags during exams.
“When you lack self-confidence you will develop all sorts of complications towards the paper or while in the exam. As a candidate you need to believe that all the exams you have done in previous levels were perhaps harder than this one. Believe that what you have read and studied is enough to make you pass any exam,” Ainembabazi says.
Confidence, she adds, should be instilled in students right from whenthey join school and students should be discouraged from listening to negative stories that exams are hard.
“When someone says exams are very hard, ask him why he passed them if they were difficult. Listening to negative stories makes students believe exams are hard and that sticks in their minds,” she adds.
Threats from former students
Citing an example of a candidate who fainted on the examination eve, John Agaba, a teacher says some candidates pay a lot of attention to loose talk about exams, something that blurs their minds and reasoning.
“Some candidates listen to former candidates who give excuses that they performed poorly because they are always difficult. A candidate enters an exam thinking she won’t pass,” he says.
Agaba says candidates get fake papers from money minded people. He says candidates concentrate on false exams instead of reading widely.
Recently, Uganda National Examination Board (Uneb) alongside the police warned that some teachers from different schools have started selling fake papers to heads of schools across the country ahead of UCE exams.
Uneb executive secretary, Daniel Odongo, said police had arrested one teacher while five others were still on the run, after they were caught selling fake exam papers to heads of schools.
“Once you focus on the kasasi [allegedly leaked papers] you are likely to be disappointed in an exam once you notice that nothing came. Candidates should focus on reading widely and should not waste time copying,” Agaba explains.
Ainembabazi believes candidates become confident through preparing for exams weeks ahead. Parents may need to reduce assignments given to candidates, encouraging them to read with ease and have enough sleep.
“If you are a keen parent, you will notice that the student is worried about exams. You will see that they want to spend hours reading unlike before. At that moment you should speak to the child and inform them that exams are not different from the ones she had been doing and should not be worried,” she advises.
Joseph Mukasa, a teacher and an accountant, says some candidates develop complications during exams and some fail because of parents’ pressure for good performance.
“I have ever heard a parent telling a daughter that she would be chased away from home if she performed poorly. Such statements worry candidates and they start thinking of where they will go in case they get bad results. That affects their mind and could be the cause for bad performance,” Mukasa says.
Mukasa argues that parents should always make positive compliments for whatever results students get. For instance, he says teachers and parents should always discourage candidates from discussing finished papers because it demoralises them for the next exams.
“Imagine if you have just come out of the first paper and colleagues tell you your answers for some questions were contrary to theirs, you will believe that you have already failed yet they are not examiner.
Candidates should restrain themselves from discussing finished exams but focus on the ones ahead,” Joseph Mukasa, a teacher observes.
John Agaba, a teacher, thinks during exams period, parents and caretakers should try to be friendly on how they respond to arguments and reactions of students since it could be as a result of exam stress.
Besides, parents should ensure all school dues are paid in time so that candidates are not disturbed by school administrations.
“You should also give enough money for upkeep during exams. If a candidate is worried on what to eat at school at break time they will definitely get problems. Try to make life easy for candidates,” says Agaba.