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How To Tackle Exam Anxiety?

Romsha Vats   •   11 Feb, 2023   •   6 mins

Examinations can be an anxious time in a students life. But it doesn’t have to be! Let’s read how we can keep exam anxiety at bay

Examinations are part and parcel of student life. As long as you remain a student, you will face the prospect of writing an exam. And no matter how many exams one might have appeared for before, each new exam brings back the same old stress in our lives.

Exams are not just a test of our knowledge but also our mental capacity. To have a calm and composed mind whilst attempting the questions in a time-bound format requires a lot of mental strength. 

While our teachers and parents equip us with all the resources needed to increase our knowledge about the syllabus, they often forget to teach us how to keep our anxiety in check.

If you are someone who struggles with exam anxiety, we want you to know that you are not alone. The good news is that there are many techniques you can learn to deal with it better! 

What Causes Exam Anxiety?

Though the experience of exam anxiety is quite common, the exact reasons behind it may vary from person to person. Let’s delve into each reason in detail and see which ones you relate to most.

  1. The Fear of Failure 

We have a habit of thinking about the result of our exams even before we sit for them. More often than not, we anticipate negative consequences. We set high expectations of ourselves, and scoring anything less than that would make us feel defeated. Sometimes, the fear of failing overtakes us to such heights that we begin avoiding exam preparation altogether. 

  1. Perfectionism

Many of us believe that exams are an opportunity to prove ourselves. To show everyone how hardworking and disciplined we are. We also wish to make our parents proud! Sometimes, these positive motivations push us towards the path of perfectionism. Sadly, perfectionists tend to put too much pressure on themselves. This pressure ends up making them a lot more nervous and critical.

  1. Lack of Sleep

We all tend to delay our preparation and leave everything for the last minute. This causes us to study till late hours and prevents us from getting a good night’s sleep. Without 7-8 hours of sleep, the mind is more prone to feeling anxious and jittery. Our memory and concentration levels also reduce when we haven’t rested. 

  1. Unhealthy Habits

As the exam date starts coming closer, we all become homebodies. We stop going out to play with our friends, spend all our time with books, and stay away from entertainment media. We also tend to eat unhealthy, fast foods to help deal with increased stress levels. As good as these methods may be to cope with the pressure of preparation, they can negatively affect your mood and energy on examination day.

  1. Past Experiences

None of us was born with the skills to give exams. We only learned to get better at them bit by bit. In the past, there may have been times when your parents disapproved of your exam scores or didn’t think you were working hard enough. Thus, exam time began feeling more stressful to you due to these bitter memories. While we have no control over our past, we can decide what to do with our present. Just try not to repeat the same mistakes as before!

How To Deal With Exam Anxiety?

Knowing the root cause of your anxiety is the first step towards finding a solution. The next step is to learn about the tools and techniques that can help you manage it. However, one must always remember that anxiety is a natural emotional reaction. We cannot eliminate it from our lives, but we can learn to control it in a way that benefits us. 

  • Plan Ahead

Most schools reveal their exam calendars many months in advance. This information can help you make an exam preparation schedule. There are no right or wrong plans. Every plan is unique because each one of us has different strengths and learning styles. Take help from your parents, friends, or teachers to make study plans suited to your needs.

  • Talk to People or Journal About It

In times of grave stress, it helps to talk to someone about your problems. This includes your grandparents, parents, friends, or teachers. By sharing your problems, you will feel lighter and less stressed. You may also learn new ways to deal with this stress from other people’s experiences. If you don’t feel like talking, there is the option of writing down your worries in your journal or diary. 

  • Take Deep Breaths

Negative thoughts are just the brain’s reaction to fear or threat. Whenever you find yourself thinking negatively about exams or worrying about the results, take a few deep breaths and try calming yourself down. Remind yourself that these thoughts are not based on reality and that you have the situation under control. Practice this technique regularly!

  • Change The Way You Think

The stories we tell ourselves have a huge impact on our emotional and mental well-being. We must try and adopt a positive outlook towards life. Develop a habit of accepting and learning from past mistakes. Start seeing every obstacle as an opportunity to grow as a student and a human being. Next time you feel anxious before exams, divert your attention to positive thoughts instead of negative ones. Imagine the results you could achieve if you gave your 100%. There’s truly no limit to what you can do!

  • Take Care of Yourself

The mind and body are interlinked. Thus, it is crucial to pay attention to your physical health along with your mental well-being. Eating nutritious food, exercising regularly, and getting 7-8 hours of sleep daily, are the minimum requirements to lead a healthy life. If ignored, you face the risk of catching an illness. A sick body will make it even more difficult for you to learn and concentrate, thus adding to your stress levels. 

  • Practise Makes Perfect

Some students write too slowly, while some forget things while writing. Many struggle to finish the entire syllabus. These are just some examples of the variety of problems that students face while giving exams. The only solution is to identify your flaws and start working on them on a regular basis.

Start practising daily to improve your writing speed, make flowcharts or cue cards to remember facts, revise the sections you have covered rather than attempting to finish the whole syllabus in a day, etc. Being disciplined and consistent is the key to overcoming such challenges!

We hope that you gained some valuable insights from this blog post. Here’s wishing you all the best for your ongoing and future exams! Always keep learning and growing.