Exam anxiety - common causes and how to overcome - GoMentor

Exam Anxiety

Exam anxietyExam anxiety is defined as behavioral changes associated with the feeling of being examined e.g. at written tests related to courses of study. Is the uneasiness, apprehension, or nervousness felt by students who had a fear of failing an exam.

Typical signs of Exam Anxiety

  • Sweating
  • Dizziness
  • Headaches
  • Racing heartbeats
  • Nausea
  • Fidgeting

If you can see yourself in any of these symptoms, here are 10 tips to help you get through your exams in the best possible way without struggling with major anxiety and fear.

1. Start rehearsing early

You should start reading the curriculum early and you may start a few months before by reading 1-2 chapters a day. This advice is especially relevant if it is an important exam. Rome was not built in one day, so the more building blocks you are able to build on your knowledge, the better you are equipped for the exam. A marathon runner knows how important it is with thorough preparation and he does not start training a couple of weeks before the race.

2. Find your professional strengths and weaknesses

Start browsing the whole syllabus and find out which parts of the syllabus you can and what you can't. It may be advantageous to categorize the individual chapters in the syllabus so that you mark them with:

  • Do well
  • Reasonably
  • Have a hard time with
  • Do not understand

By doing this it is easier to plan how much time you need to spend on the individual topics and what to read when. If you approach the exam and have not mastered the syllabus you are having difficulties with, it will of course stress you. Normally there is a tendency to postpone the unpleasant, but instead get something done at the start so you are well on time.

3. Plan your curriculum reading in clear portions

If you look at your entire exam preparation, there are usually a lot of pages to read. The example of the marathon runner is also very good in this context: If the marathon runner starts for every kilometer and counts how far there is left, he will be beyond doubt the first many kilometers. If the runner instead thinks of the marathon as a race, you bid for example 5 km at a time, he will not feel completely unbeatable. You should accordingly plan the reading of the syllabus in some clear daily doses and set goals for what you should read and when.


4. Get control over your calendar

Young students have many things to take care of and in addition to the exam reading, there must be time for friends, sports, hobbies, driving licenses, boyfriends, family, and much more. On one hand it is important to take your time to do something else than exam reading, but on the other hand you must also prioritize. Exam reading and relaxation takes time and therefore there are certain things that you need to prioritize. Exercise is important during the exam reading and is one of the things you should prioritize. On the other hand, drinking and parties is destructive. Although there must be room to go out but there is no need to party every Friday and Saturday. In order for you to prioritize your time you need to completely control your calendar. If there space in the calendar for a nice canoe trip with your girlfriend, you can do it with a good conscience. If you go out with the feeling that you do not have time, it will surely be a bad experience. Even though there is no time in the calendar, and you still think it may motivate you, you must prioritize something else in the calendar.

5. Take many small breaks

A reading holiday should not be taken literally but on the other hand it is also important to keep in mind that the brain needs breaks. Therefore you need to take a lot of small breaks along the way where you think of something completely different. It's good to schedule the breaks when the day starts and put the alarm on so you remember to have them while you are reading. In that way you will avoid getting tired too quickly. Research shows that the brain becomes tired after more than 45 minutes of reading and the learning ability drops significantly. It is therefore recommended that a 20 minutes break between every 45 minute interval will improve the ability to move what you read from short-term memory to long-term memory.

6. Avoid skipping actions

When you study for the exam and have made a thoughtful plan for your reading it is important that you don't do a lot of skip action. The scam of having a precise plan is that you also take the time to hold breaks and do other things. When you have time to read do not waste time on Facebook, TV, SMS, email, and other things. It is therefore a good idea to close the outside world so there are no small messages that you need to read and answer. When you sit and read and then get disturbed, you typically have a little backtrack in the text and read the same again - and so you can stay on over and over again. Firstly it is not very productive and secondly the information has difficulties of remaining in your memory when you get disturbed continuously. You will probably get more out of two uninterrupted hours than three hours of ongoing interference.

7. Get lots of exercise

We all need to clear our heads and get rid of all the frustrations about examinations. In this regard exercise is an incredibly good means of getting the tension out of the body. Exercise is available in different variants but with a little workout you get the pulse up which will benefit the feeling of being "cleansed". Many will probably say that they don't have time to exercise because they have to read but it's just a matter of prioritization. When you can see what the young people are spending time on, there is also time for half an hour's ride on a bike or a walk with the dog.

8. Eat healty and sleep regularly

In general, you need to make sure you have healthy food and plenty of fluid so your body is in good balance. In that way, you are well equipped to accept the material you are reading. Be sure to eat many small meals during the day and never skip breakfast. The big meals that are the option to many little ones will make you tired and unobtrusive and it will be hard to get started again.

In the reading season, the head becomes bigger and bigger while the body is forgotten and gradually declines. It may not be so bad but you should take a possible sleep disorder seriously. When you can't sleep it is likely that you have forgotten your body's needs over a long period of time. By following our advice, you can avoid the most sleeping problems and go to bed with a good conscience. If you are exercising you will first experience a natural fatigue and then you will have a sense of being cleansed and have the feeling that what you read has gotten stuck. It's a bad idea to read just until you go to sleep and you should not take your books to bed. Your bed and sleeping environment should be a free space where you relax and get energy for more reading. Also, keep in mind that your body has inner preparedness, which means you can't go from being in the highest level of preparedness to fall into a deep sleep. Therefore important to stop reading on time and relax before you sleep.


9. Avoid alcohol and nerve or sleeping medicine

Examinations and alcohol is a bad cocktail, and neither when you revise the curriculum or when you go to the exam. If you have you been drinking too much the day before, you will not be in the correct mental state of mind to make a good exam performance. The same goes for when you revise whilst having a hangover, this is also detrimental to your concentration and freshness. It is quite natural that adrenaline pumps in the body during an exam, and we can usually handle it. However, when we have hangovers, we are more vulnerable than normal which means that less time is needed before we lose control of the situation. Therefore, alcohol removes some of the necessary sharpness in your exam performance. So work better with using natural methods to handle the pressure during an exam.

When the fear of disappointing an exam and slack of sleep, it may also be tempting to take a calming/soothing pill. Perhaps the pill may make you sober up at the moment, but in the long run it will probably weaken both your concentration and memory. Attempts have been made with students who have taken tranquilizers and have shown that the ability to perform and remember is reduced.

10. Be optimistic and believe in yourself

When you go for a graduation it's because you see the previous exam as a suitable challenge for your skills. Conversely, if you think that you are failing or doing badly you will probably perform well below your usual standard when you sit your exam. With a good planning and revision of the curriculum, you have a good and solid foundation for a great exam and there is absolutely no need to worry. You can help yourself by practicing in front of the mirror. It's no wonder that media training includes exercises in front of the mirror - we are very hard at it. If you can manage to stand in front of the mirror and complete an exam, you are well equipped for the correct exam. You can also do a class test with a couple of study mates or the family. You can not change what you feel but fortunately you can control what you think and do. Allow yourself to be optimistic and have confidence. Look forward to entering and showing the examiner  that you are completely in control of the curriculum.

Get on well after an exam

Take responsibility for your own actions and your own performance. It does not provide much positive energy to focus on being misjudged so think about what you can do differently the next time - both in terms of your preparation and the next exam. When it comes to yourself you have the best chance to change something. If you need any more help or advise with how to deal with your exam anxiety, try GoMentor 24/7 today and help yourself get a succesfully exam.

If you or another person have suicidal thoughts or are in some way a hazard to your own health, then you should not use GoMentor.These resources can help you with immediate assistance.

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