Why are exams so stressful ?

Exams are stressful because they play a critical and often controversial role in education and society.  While many would argue that the ‘formative’ value of exams and assessment is often understated or underplayed, the ‘summative’ value of exams focuses attention on the end results

And it is not as simple as final or ‘leaving’ exams presenting a record of achievement’, exam results have come to play important roles beyond the use of such results for teaching purposes in schools.  College admissions / course preference decision making and job selection are prime examples of strictly ‘non-educational’ users of exam results.  That said, colleges would argue that the advantages of using exam results in admissions decision making is in fact ‘educational’ and based on the selection of those students likely to perform best in college courses.