The following case study can be used as an in-class activity to initiate a discussion about stress management.
James is on an academic scholarship that requires him to maintain a certain grade point average. He’s had a rough term and needs to do well on his finals to pull the grades that will keep him on scholarship. James is often tense regardless of exam schedules, but when he found out he would have three finals on the same day, he had a meltdown. First, he was angry that his schedule turned out this way, and he complained bitterly about it to anyone who would listen. Then he got into an argument with his roommate, who was listening to music while James was trying to study.
The night before his exams, James studied at the library all night. He skipped breakfast the next morning because he wanted get to the classroom early. The teacher passed out the test and James began to read it. He felt absolute panic. All the typing on the page was running together, his vision was blurred, and he couldn’t remember anything. The longer he sat there, the worse it got. Finally, he decided to guess on the questions and get out of the room as fast as he could. He was so upset that he skipped his next two finals as well. He spent the rest of the day hiding out in his bed, wondering what he was going to do and how he was going to tell his mother he flunked out of school.
- Is there anything James could have done to handle this situation better?
- What was the cause of tension between James and his roommate?
- What are some test-taking strategies that would have helped him do better on the test?
- Should James approach his teachers about what happened with his final exams? What would be the best way for him to do this?
- If you were James's professor, how would you handle this situation?