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Students writing CBSE exams at the Indian High School in Dubai Image Credit: Gulf News archives

Dubai: Students in the UAE stressed as CBSE grade 10 and 12 exams began on February 15 can speak with designated counsellors.

Students can also use online counselling, resources and email support from the CBSE via and Additionally, they can access content under the title ‘Knowing Children Better’ at by clicking on the tab ‘Counselling’.

CBSE, or Central Board of Secondary Education, is India’s largest board with more than 21,270 affiliated schools in India and over 220 schools in 25 foreign countries – including 78 in the UAE.

The CBSE board exams for grade 10 and 12, taken by millions of students annually, are widely regarded as the most important school exams in India and CBSE-affiliated schools outside India.

There are around 9,500 CBSE students in grade 10 in the UAE and about 6,500 in grade 12.

Annual counselling

Many students face anxiety during the exam season, which this year started on February 15; CBSE provides free counselling and online resources to help them cope.

At the start of the month,, CBSE launched its 23rd annual counselling through 95 designated principals and trained counsellors, including a few in the UAE and eight other countries.

The counselling will continue till the last day of the exams March 20 for grade 10 and March 30 for grade 12)

UAE counsellors

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Rafia Zafar Ali, principal of Leaders Private School in Sharjah Image Credit: Supplied

Speaking to Gulf News, one of the CBSE counsellors in the UAE, Rafia Zafar Ali, who is the principal of Leaders Private School in Sharjah, said “a few” students had called her last year.

She explained that students in the UAE, generally, are academically well prepared for the exams and able to cope emotionally and psychologically too. This is mainly because, Ali said, schools here generally offer year-round counselling. Students also practice for the exams by solving sample question papers from previous years.

Case in point

Last year Ali received a call from a grade 12 student who was scared of failing because she kept forgetting what she revised.

“I listened closely to her case and guided her that it was only because of stress that she kept forgetting. When she understood the problem, she calmed down. She ended up scoring 70 per cent and called me back with the good news,” Ali said.

Parental responsibility

“Parents also should realise that they should not expect too much from their children because that puts them under huge pressure. Parents should be supportive and involved. If they leave the children to themselves, children will feel like they are alone in this journey and that is worrying.”

Some stress calls

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Professor M Abubaker, prinicipal of Scholars Indian School in Ras Al Khaimah Image Credit: Supplied

Another CBSE counsellor, Professor M. Abu Bakr, who is principal of Scholars Indian School in Ras Al Khaimah, said around 100 students and parents had called him last year. Most of the calls were regarding methods for revising or writing the exams; some were related to stress issues.

“We have to make students and parents understand that there should be no pressurising the process of learning. If you give students their space, they will do well. In any case, marks are secondary; you have to excel in life itself and there are many ways to do that,” Prof Abu Bakr said.

Year-round help

He echoed the observation that UAE students are generally well prepared psychologically and “do very well” in the exams, with virtually all students passing.

In-school counselling is widely practiced in the UAE year-round, Prof Abu Bakr said, with emotional and academic support for students with learning difficulties as well.

Planning key

A school principal said time management and planning during exam season are key to keeping stress at bay and improving performance.

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Dr Heena Rachh, principal of Global Indian International School in Abu Dhabi Image Credit: Supplied

Dr Heena Rachh, principal of Global Indian International School in Abu Dhabi, said: “Once you know your dates and schedule, plan your days and time spent on each subject based on your current level of preparation. Also, make sure you follow the plan. Having an adult monitor your status or a group of friends assessing your progress as per the plan is very motivating and helps you be on track.”

Feeling exam stress? Call these CBSE Counsellors in UAE

  • Rafia Zafar Ali, Principal, Leaders Private School, Sharjah: 0502151893. Timings 8am-12pm
  • Professor M. Abu Bakr, Principal, Scholars Indian School, Ras Al Khaimah: 0505794542

Take five: tips for students

  • Visual representations like flashcards can be supremely useful when it comes to last-day and last-minute revision.
  • Positive approach, not pressure, is the way to look at exams – both parents as well as students are contributing factors towards this.
  • Stay hydrated and try to make a conscious effort to include fruits and nuts into your diet, especially ahead of the exams.
  • The 50/10 Rule. Ideally, students should try to take a 10-minute break after studying for around 50 minutes.
  • Make a realistic study schedule. There’s no point of making a plan that’s too difficult to follow.
  • (Source: Dr Henna Rachh, principal of Global Indian International School in Abu Dhabi)