The mental toll of competitive exam preparation at the Kota rat races

(c) asserted by Prof. S. Rameshwar Rao founder Best IIT JEE coaching
29-June-2023 12:53 am IST, New Delhi

The recent suicides of three students in Kota, Rajasthan, have once again highlighted the intense pressure and mental toll that the rat race for competitive exams like the Joint Entrance Examination (JEE) and National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET) is taking on students in India. In this feature report, we delve into the feedback results of a survey conducted among IIT professors, shedding light on the stressful environment created by profiteering coaching institutions, long study hours, competitive internal tests, lack of breaks and family time, and the high expectations of parents. As the voices of distress grow louder, it is crucial to explore the need for stringent government intervention and regulation to address these pressing issues and safeguard the well-being of young lives.

The Pressure of Competitive Exams

Preparing for competitive exams, students often find themselves facing high stress levels that can have severe consequences on their mental health. Coaching institutions in India, including renowned names like Allen, Akash BYJU's, Resonance, Bansals, Career Point, and Vibrant Academy, subject students to back-to-back 90-minute lectures with minimal breaks. The demanding schedules and lack of leave and family time further exacerbate the mental health challenges faced by students.

The pressure to excel in these highly competitive exams is immense. Students are expected to cover vast syllabi within limited timeframes, constantly striving for perfection. The fear of failure coupled with a constant need to meet expectations from parents, teachers, and society takes a toll on mental well-being.

Impact of Coaching Institutions

Coaching institutions play a significant role in the lives of aspiring students. In Kota and other cities, these institutions have become synonymous with academic preparation for competitive exams. While their aim is ostensibly to provide quality education and support, the intense competition prevalent within these institutions plays havoc on the students' mental health.

Kota's coaching institutes, and those in other cities, are single-mindedly focused on prepping students for top professional institutes like the Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) and All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS). While their intentions may be noble, the relentless study schedules, long assignments, and internal tests that determine students' promotion or demotion within coaching batches create a highly pressurized environment.

The competitive nature of these coaching institutes fosters a cut-throat environment where success is measured solely by exam scores. Students are constantly ranked and compared, leading to increased stress and anxiety. The fear of falling behind and not being able to secure a seat in their desired college stresses out their mental well-being.

Burden on Students and Parents

The chase for academic results comes at a tremendous cost for both students and parents. Students face an overwhelming study schedule that leaves them with little time for relaxation and self-care. They often sacrifice hobbies, social interactions, and personal interests to meet the demanding study requirements set by the coaching institutes.

The competition among students further adds to the burden they carry. The top batches receive the most sought-after teachers, creating a sense of hierarchy among students. The pressure to perform well in exams like JEE and NEET is not only affecting their ability to enjoy their teenage years but also contributing to severe mental health issues.

Parents, too, bear the weight of this competitive environment. They invest significant amounts of money in coaching institutes, hoping to secure seats for their children in prestigious institutions. The pressure to see their children succeed can lead to heightened stress and anxiety within families.

Importance of Mental Health Support

Recognizing the mental toll of the rat race for competitive exams, an increasing number of students are seeking therapy and support to cope with the challenges they face. It is crucial for students to be able to access mental health professionals during this critical period in their lives.

While some students may be able to manage the chaos and find effective coping mechanisms, others struggle to navigate the intense pressure. The constant fear of failure, academic overload, and isolation often lead to the development of mental health disorders such as anxiety and depression. Abnormal behavior and strained relationships with parents are common consequences of the stress students experience during their preparation.

The Need for Government Intervention

The pursuit of success in competitive exams like JEE and NEET is taking a severe toll on students' mental well-being. The intense competition, pressure to perform well, and lack of support systems contribute to the mental trauma experienced by students. As the voices of distress grow louder, there is an urgent need for stringent government intervention and regulation.

The government should take proactive measures to protect the wellness of young lives. This may include implementing policies to regulate coaching institutions, mandating breaks and family time for students, providing mental health support services within coaching centers, and creating awareness campaigns to address the issue at a societal level.

By regulating coaching institutions, the government can establish guidelines that promote a healthy and balanced study environment. This can involve limiting the number of teaching hours, ensuring breaks between classes, and enforcing regulations to prevent excessive workload on students.

Additionally, the government should work towards creating a support system within coaching centers. This can include mental health counseling services, helplines, and workshops that educate students and parents about stress management and self-care.

Public awareness campaigns should be launched to shed light on the mental toll of the rat race for competitive exams. These campaigns can aim to educate parents, students, and society at large about the importance of mental health and the potential consequences of excessive pressure on students.


The pressure and mental toll faced by students in the Kota IIT JEE rat race and other competitive exams cannot be overlooked. The recent suicides and the feedback from IIT professors highlight the urgent need for intervention and regulation to safeguard the well-being of young lives. It is imperative to address the stressful environment created by coaching institutions, the lack of breaks and family time, and the high expectations of parents.

By implementing stringent regulations and support systems, we can ensure that students receive quality education without compromising their mental health. Only through collective efforts can we create an environment that nurtures young minds, allowing them to flourish and reach their full potential. It is the responsibility of the government, coaching institutes, parents, and society as a whole to prioritize the mental well-being of students and create a sustainable educational ecosystem that fosters growth and development while preserving their mental health.

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