How to Deal With a Panic Attack During the UPSC Exam?

The UPSC exam is considered one of the most difficult ones in India, and perhaps this statement can be justified. For one, the UPSC syllabus is so large and consists of an eclectic mix of topics. Secondly, it takes almost a whole year of preparation before you get a semblance of confidence to sit for the exam. And finally, the competition is really intense. Starting with a few lakhs of people who take the IAS prelims, only a few hundreds make it out as civil servants, and even fewer become IAS officers. It is but natural to feel anxious during the course of your UPSC preparation. But, what if you get a panic attack during the IAS exam? Read on to find out how to deal with a panic attack during the UPSC exam…

Symptoms of a panic attack:

A little bit of nervousness is okay in any exam. In fact, some pressure can actually activate your brain and propel you to do well. But an overdose of it can backfire, and how. In extreme cases, you may need to be led away from the exam hall. All that hard work would go down the drain. Avoid this scenario.

Check out the symptoms of a panic attack:-

  • Fast and shallow breathing
  • Trembling
  • Feeling dizzy
  • Feeling as if you are about to faint
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Breathlessness
  • Dry mouth or throat
  • Chest pain
  • Sweating profusely
  • Feeling or being sick
  • Feeling too hot or too cold
  • Ringing in the ears

How to deal with it in the exam hall:

Understand that all these are the body’s reaction to a perceived threat. Remember that an exam is not a dangerous situation, only a tad unpleasant. Similarly, panic attacks are not dangerous, only unpleasant. The problem is, the physical symptoms of a panic attack can further fuel your anxiety which can, in turn, aggravate the symptoms. So, it works in a cycle. Read on to know how to deal with such panic attacks during the exam:

  • Remind yourself that this state of panic will stop.
  • Do breathing exercises (it is good to practice them beforehand).
  • Force negative thoughts out of your head.
  • Think neutral things like what dress the invigilator is wearing or what would be a better colour for the wall.
  • Visualize a calm place or scene and stay there for a few minutes. Don’t worry about the time. It is better to take five minutes to recuperate rather than write the exam for 25 minutes through this panic.
  • Stretch your arms and legs.
  • Tell yourself positive things.
  • Tell yourself that this is just another exam, not a life or death situation. (Indeed it is not).
  • Avoid hyperventilation (over-breathing).
  • Take the exam one question at a time. If you don’t know an answer, don’t dwell on it. Move on to the next question.

How to prevent a panic attack:

  • The basic thing is to study well. Prepare well in advance. This will give you a lot of confidence.
  • Talk to people who can help you like your parents, teachers, mentors, friends, etc.
  • Meditate regularly.
  • Eat healthy food.
  • Avoid caffeine before the exam. It increases anxiety. 

Also read-

How to read the Hindu?

How to start IAS preparation?

How difficult is CSAT exam?

For more such articles and strategy on clearing the IAS exam, visit the BYJU’S free IAS prep website.


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