Survey: Kids more anxious about exams than Covid-19

Over 60% worried about upcoming exams, 60% positive about pandemic situation here

Seven in 10 children surveyed feel negatively about upcoming school exams, while six in 10 feel positive about the Covid-19 situation in Singapore.
Seven in 10 children surveyed feel negatively about upcoming school exams, while six in 10 feel positive about the Covid-19 situation in Singapore. PHOTO: LIANHE ZAOBAO

Children in Singapore are more anxious about examinations than about Covid-19, according to a survey out yesterday.

It found that 70 per cent of children polled felt negatively about upcoming exams - "angry", "worried" or "sad" - with more than 60 per cent admitting to being "worried".

In comparison, 60 per cent felt positive - "calm", "secure" or "hopeful" - about the Covid-19 situation in Singapore, noted charity Focus on the Family Singapore, which polled around 1,050 children aged between 10 and 15.

It said the findings suggest that exams and grades are "of high importance". "While it is natural that examinations cause some anxiety, high levels of worry can lead to test anxiety if left unchecked.

"This may, in turn, affect students' academic performance and lead to other forms of anxiety, depression or mental health issues."

Parental support can help offset the negative effects of test anxiety, it added.

The survey noted that 38.1 per cent of the children admitting to being "worried" about upcoming exams indicated that they do not receive consistent parental support.

Ms Joanna Koh-Hoe, the charity's chief executive, said: "It's probably no surprise that the survey results show that our children face tremendous pressure when it comes to their academic performance.

"They really need their parents to tune in to their emotional needs and not just cater to their practical daily needs."

More than 70 per cent of children surveyed described themselves as being close to both their parents - rated "seven" and above on a 10-point scale - with boys and girls differing in ways they felt most connected and loved by each parent.

Those 10 to 12 years old were also closer to their parents, compared with 13-to 15-year-olds.

Boys seemed to value their chats with both parents most of all, followed by quality time with their fathers through shared activities and outings. They also enjoyed deeper conversations with their mothers and the feeling of being listened to.

 
 
 

Girls seemed to prefer their fathers for shared activities and outings and their mothers for physical and verbal affection.

The survey was conducted from Aug 17 to Sept 7 as part of an annual Children's Day campaign by Focus on the Family Singapore.

The Race to Praise campaign is in its sixth year and is one of a range of efforts to address mental health issues among children.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 19, 2020, with the headline 'Survey: Kids more anxious about exams than Covid-19'. Print Edition | Subscribe