Exam Anxiety

Overcoming Exam Anxiety

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By: Stan Popovich

No matter how hard you’ve studied, you may still find yourself feeling anxious about an upcoming exam.

While some amount of test anxiety is normal for most students, exam anxiety can have long-term negative effects on some students’ daily lives.

As a result, here are six ways on how to help manage the stresses of taking tests.

1. Know the signs and symptoms of exam anxiety: While anxiety is a natural psychological response to potential threats, it can take extreme forms for those with anxiety disorders. You may have exam anxiety if you experience the following symptoms before an exam:

  • Feelings of dread, worry, or fear
  • Headaches, stomach aches, nausea, and other physical symptoms of stress
  • Inability to focus or concentrate on coursework
  • Feelings of hopelessness, self-doubt, depression, or anger

Note that it’s normal to feel these symptoms at many points throughout your life and during your studies. However, they could indicate an anxiety disorder if they continue to have a negative effect on your academic performance and daily life.

2. Understand that exam anxiety is normal: According to sources compiled by Affordable Colleges Online, it’s estimated that 18 percent of college students experience moderately high exam anxiety, while a further 16 percent of college students experience high exam anxiety.

Anxiety has come to replace depression as the most common mental disorder among college students, with one in five surveyed college students reporting that they have experienced severe anxiety.

3. Establish a consistent pre-test routine: A pre-test routine can help maintain consistency between exams and eliminate some of the uncertainty causing your anxiety. Try adopting some of the following routines before your next exam:

  • Get plenty of sleep. It’s widely known that a good night’s rest helps increase learning capacity and concentration.
  • Try relaxation techniques such as deep breathing, meditation, and gentle stretching.
  • Eat and drink something before an exam. An empty stomach can worsen anxiety.
  • Give yourself positive words of affirmation. Assure yourself that everything will be okay, and that your value as a person isn’t tied to your exam performance. You can do it!

4. Take care of yourself physically and mentally: Regardless of your situation, there’s nothing more important than taking care of yourself. By taking care of yourself both physically and mentally, you can reap the benefits of a healthy body and mind.

One form of self-care is physical exercise, which can be an extremely effective way of improving your general wellbeing. To feel your very best, try performing light aerobic exercise (such as light jogging or walking) on exam days.

5. Learn from your experiences: Whenever you take an exam, begin to learn what works, what doesn’t work, and what you need to improve on in managing your fears and anxieties. Use what you have learned from taking your past exams to help you get prepared for the next one that is coming up.

6. Do not ignore a learning disability: Learning disabilities such as attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) or dyslexia can negatively affect your ability to study and concentrate, which can further worsen anxiety. If you think that you may have a learning disability, then your best bet is to seek treatment from a professional.

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