9 tips to deal with exam anxiety

Know what the exam requires of you, and use effective exam strategies to prepare for it.

Take steps to find balance in your life and relieve exam stress.
Take steps to find balance in your life and relieve exam stress.
Foto: Magnus Brath on Flickr

It is natural to be anxious for an exam, but excessive and persistent worry before and during your test is self-defeating. It can interfere with your concentration and focus during your preparation and your performance on the exam itself. Here are nine steps you can take to cope with exam anxiety.

Set goals for achievement

Have a vision and purpose for your life. Write down your goals so you can keep them in sight to motivate you. Be sure that your goals are specific and manageable. See your exam success as just one of the ways of achieving your life’s vision. As you place your exam in its proper perspective, you are better able to manage the worry that could come.

Study smartly and efficiently

Take steps to improve your study habits so that you can learn the required material. Know what the exam requires of you, and use effective exam strategies to prepare for it. For example, list the important points you need to learn for the test, and generate questions from text books and lecture notes.

Resist self-defeating thoughts

Identify the thoughts that produce anxious feelings. For example, there could be issues of low self esteem, where you don’t have confidence in yourself to achieve your set goals. When you understand the beliefs and messages that are causing worry and anxiety, take steps to address them. Also resist worrying about past exam performance, and don’t compare yourself with others.

Visualize your success

Reframe your fear and anxiety by finding other ways of looking at them. For example, enlarge your perspectives and see yourself succeeding. Develop cognitive messages and images where you imagine yourself doing well. This could build your confidence and help you to stay positive.

Review exam self-management

During your exam, be sure to read the questions carefully. In addition, plan your answers for each question so that you can perform at you best. If you feel you are not doing well on a question, replace the negative with positive thoughts. Think about success and say in your mind, “I can do it!”

Practice good time management

You could become anxious because you are not properly prepared for your exam. Be sure to study throughout the semester and avoid last minute cramming. See your life and time as valuable, and avoid procrastination.

Ensure adequate self-care

Get enough sleep, rest, and proper nutrition to enhance your performance. Take short breaks and balance your studies with enjoyable activities such as going out with your friends. Also, develop specific stress reduction techniques including breathing and relaxation exercises.

Strive for life balance

Always remember where you want to go, and avoid distractions. But be sure to strive for balance in your life. While exams are important, there are also other important things. Build healthy nurturing relationships by connecting with others. Find time to reach out to them, and accept help when you need it.

Talk to a counselor

If you find that your exam anxiety is overwhelming, talk to a counselor. A mental health professional could help you resolve the underlying conflicts that are causing your anxiety. A counselor could also help to strengthen your emotional resilience and reduce your exam anxiety.

Most students are familiar with being nervous for an exam. But too much worry could hinder your performance. The good news is that you can manage your anxiety.