The Negative Impacts of Stress on Teachers During Exams

It’s common knowledge that students often get stressed out during exams due to their past examination experiences, poor preparation, pressure to deliver good performance, worry, and fear of failing. Because they see exams as threatening, one way or the other, it raises their stress and anxiety levels significantly. This is even more common among students that often struggle with school work and those with mental health difficulties or special educational needs. Students that are high achievers are also known to experience exam stress because of the expectations and ambitions of their parents for them or because they’re perfectionists. One set of people that many don’t imagine also get stressed during exams, however, are the teachers.

Teachers are as stressed as their students during exams, if not more. Many even admit that the exam period is the most stressful part of the job for them every year. This article considers what stress is and the causes of teachers’ stress during exam periods.

What is stress?

Stress is a part of life; normally, we experience stress at different points in our lives. However, stress can be both good and bad. In an essay by writers at, stress is divided into three main types:

  • Positive stress: This is a good level of stress, which is positive for people of different ages, especially younger people, as it helps them to develop resilience and learn coping skills. 

  • Tolerable stress: This is the temporary stress tolerable to the person being stressed, especially because they have developed their coping skills and resilience and have other people around them to help deal with it.

  • Toxic stress: This type of stress involves a prolonged activation of stress triggers in people to the point that they may not be able to deal with it on their own anymore. 

The toxic stress, as the name implies, is the problematic one. Stress causes the autonomic nervous system’s sympathetic branch to switch on. This releases neurochemical adrenaline into the body system and stimulates you to focus on your work. However, when the stress is prolonged and becomes toxic, it causes the sympathetic branch to remain on permanently and continues to pour adrenaline inside the system. This keeps the body on high alert always. This has several negative effects, such as anxiety, worry, depression, insomnia, forgetfulness, increased irritability, and feeling overwhelmed and out of control.

Causes of teacher’s stress during exams

During exam periods, the teacher is under as much pressure as the children. They are the first to prepare for the exam and must ensure that all of their students are prepared and ready for the exam. They’re also responsible for assessing the exams of each student and grading them, and they do this for all the classes and subjects they teach. This is a lot of stress that teachers have to endure for students to get a quality education. Yet, this doesn’t account for the hours of teaching that they do every day for months before the exam time rolls in.

For instance, high school teachers can have as many as seven classes they’re handling, and each class could have 30 or more students. This means they have at least 210 students whose exams they will assess and grade. Although some high schools make provisions for some exams to be graded digitally, not all exams can fall into this category. Most exams require human input to grade the students.

Also, preparing and preparing the students for the exam is very stressful for teachers. They often feel at fault when their students don’t perform well in exams, which adds to their stress. Students must study and prepare well for their exams because they contribute directly and indirectly to the teacher’s stress. Teachers shouldn’t worry about students who passed or failed their subjects.

How stress affects teachers

Teachers may show several signs of stress at different times, but it often goes unnoticed because many don’t expect or realize that teachers can be stressed during exams. Some signs or impacts of stress are:

  • Physical health issues: Stress can cause teachers to suffer from physical health breakdowns and illnesses. The common examples are headaches and stomach aches, reducing the quality and quantity of work they can do. 

  • Poor sleeping and eating habits: The sudden lack of sleep and loss of appetite you’re experiencing might be because you’re stressed, and affecting you. 

  • Mood changes: Sudden mood changes from angry to withdrawn, tearful, etc., may be caused by stress.

  • Spending too much time working or trying very hard to avoid work: When you don’t feel like stopping work or actively avoiding work, it’s your body’s response to stress. 


Exam stress doesn’t affect only students. Teachers are also affected, most times, more than the students, and this stress comes with loads of negative impacts. So, reducing your stress levels is important as you strive to help your students do the same. 


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