7 ways to tackle exam anxiety successfully

exam anxiety

An exam is, by definition, a potentially stressful situation, leading to exam anxiety. Unless you are taking part in an exercise in which you have absolutely nothing at stake and the only important thing is to participate, it is normal to have a little exam anxiety, nervousness, stress… or a lot. 

As you know, a certain level of anxiety is normal and necessary. There are ways to learn how to avoid anxiety during exams, but the pressure also helps you perform the task at hand. You could not do it properly if you were not feeling a certain degree of tension, sufficiently awake, attentive to the different variables in the moment, and with your five senses focused primarily on the problem that you are facing. Then, whether you pass by 50% or receive a distinction depends on many other factors; anxiety, in its right measure, is essential to support success.

The problem is when anxiety does not allow us to prepare properly for the test or mentally block us in such a way that we end up failing or not doing the best we can. This usually happens when anxiety is excessive; i.e. when you have too much stress and vigilance. In these cases, your body and mind are expressing themselves in an excessive way, activating a series of internal responses that nothing have to do with performing adequately in the exam, or that appear before their time or continue when they should have been deactivated. 

exam anxiety

If you feel that your exam anxiety is peaking and puts your academic performance at risk– as well as your own well-being – it is very important that you take action. Perhaps the time has come to look into therapy with a psychologist who can help you understand clearly the causes and consequences of anxiety, in addition to locating the factors that sustain it. During your therapy, you could also learn useful strategies to live with your exam anxiety in a healthier way.

How to avoid anxiety during exams

To help you overcome this and learn how to avoid anxiety during exams we have highlighted a few tips that can help you manage exam anxiety in the short term. Try to adapt them to your own situation and if you need additional help, don’t hesitate to ask for professional help. At ifeel, our psychologists specialize in cases such as those related to anxiety and many other aspects of psychological well-being.

1. Prepare efficiently for exams 

We sometimes suffer when faced with a feeling of not being well prepared before a test simply because we are not well organized and do not feel confident in the topic on which we are going to be assessed. If this happens to you sometimes, anticipate it next time and start preparing beforehand. Remember that nothing makes a student more nervous than the feeling they have been caught out.

2. It’s just an exam, not the end of the world

In order to control your exam anxiety, it is essential that you value the importance of that test the right way. That will help you to not think about facing catastrophic news (before) and to not dramatize a bad result if it appeared (after). 

3. Organize your study time 

Be clear on the topics you need to prepare and make sure you don’t lose sight of the ones you are least proficient in: they will be the ones weighing you down when you go to the exam. Alternate study with short breaks and leisure activities that allow you to switch off so that your mind is in good condition and can absorb new knowledge. When the exam day comes, try not to feel you are cramming everything at the last minute.

4. Take a few minutes to prepare

Arrive with plenty of time at the exam location; do not rush. This will stop your biorhythms from speeding up unnecessarily and you will be able to set aside a few minutes before entering the exam hall to connect internally rather than wandering around aimlessly.

Stay calm, do not go rush, stay away from situations that increase your anxiety

5. Stay calm during the exam

You have studied and you have plenty of time. Focus, read the question, take a few moments to think how you want to approach it, and… go!

6. Stay away from sources of anxiety

The groups of hysterical people standing in the hallway before an exam are not the best company. Keep a distance or that anxious energy will contaminate you. Sometimes it is useful to confirm some key points with your colleagues before entering, but do not confuse that with a last-minute study session that will trigger your brain right when you need it to be calm and relaxed. When you go into the exam, remember anything you have not learned after yesterday, you will not absorb it at the last minute.

exam anxiety

7. When you finish, take a break

After the exam, give yourself some time to “decompress” if it has been a particularly hard time. Do not start studying again immediately. Rest and once you feel ready, focus on your next task. Sometimes this is difficult, especially when facing very important exams, but it is over, so it does not make sense to think about it over and over again, or what you think you did correctly and where you think you went wrong before you know the final result. Make sure you know when you will find out your exam result, and, while waiting for that day to come, focus your energy on current and important tasks, not those you can no longer control. Otherwise, your well-being will be affected in a completely useless way.

How ifeel can help you deal with exam anxiety

Tackling exam anxiety is not easy and each individual has different needs when it comes to facing this issue. To facilitate the process, ifeel offers online therapy with a team of leading psychologists who can help you battle issues such as exam anxiety, with personalized and ongoing therapy.

Get in touch with us or visit our website for more information. Our priority is your mental health.

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