Coping with exam nerves
When it comes to exam time of year, experiencing anxiety is natural. In fact, most people – even those who have prepared extensively – experience some level of anxiety before and during tests. While a level of test anxiety is beneficial, too much can be detrimental if it can prevent you from studying, preparing properly, or concentrating during an exam.
These following strategies can help you control extreme exam taking anxiety:
Cramming for an exam the night before is a major cause of exam stress and nerves. Students who take their time to regularly study for an exam throughout the term will experience less anxiety than those who decide to study a day or even hours prior to one. If you're studying a difficult subject it's imperative that you start studying early in the term, as you're likely to come across topics and subjects that require outside help. Cramming can leave you not only pressed for time, but unable to get the help you need in time.
Develop good habits.
One of the most effective ways to handle exam anxiety is through proper preparation. Besides preparing you for the questions on the exam, studying will also build your confidence. And as your confidence increases, your test anxiety will decrease.
If you're completely prepared for an exam to the point of being familiar with any question that could be asked, anxiety will dramatically decrease. There is little reason to experience anxiety for an exam you've prepared for. If you're studying a subject or concept that is difficult for you to understand, start early in the term and this will leave you with ample time to source the extra help you need.
Get lots of exercise.
Exercise relieves stress and will improve your ability to study. It can also increase energy. If you take time to take care of your body, you'll experience far less anxiety all around.
Fit in plenty of sleep.
Not only is receiving adequate sleep necessary for good health, it's also an effective way to decrease anxiety. It's recommended that you try to get plenty of sleep the night prior to an exam and even the entire week before an exam. If you do not get enough sleep, you will be fatigued, less able to concentrate, unable to remember everything, and more anxious.
Never take an exam on a hungry stomach. Not only do you need the nutrients necessary for proper brain function and physical energy, taking a test on an empty, grumbling, stomach will make it more difficult for you to concentrate on the test. Some students neglect to eat prior to an exam because they don't want to take time away from last minute studying. You don't have to eat a four course meal before every test, but at least grab an apple or some other healthy snack.
Focus on the learning experience.
Do not be too hard on yourself if you do not perform up to your expectations in an exam. Instead, learn from the experience, so you can make the changes for the future. Nothing is accomplished by getting all stressed out over something that has already past.
Do not allow yourself to get too pessimistic. Remain positive and concentrate on doing well. If you dwell on negative thoughts, it will increase your anxiety and make it more difficult to perform. If you think you're going to perform poorly in an exam, chances are you will. If you're confident in your ability, you're much likely to be less anxious and perform better.
Take a few minutes to relax before the exam. If you're struggling to relax, take deep breaths. Take a moment and clear your head. Focus on something completely unrelated to the exam. Think about something fun you're planning later during the week, or maybe a fun trip you'll be taking. Once you're calm, go for it!
Ask for help.
If all else fails, ask for help. Severe exam anxiety can be debilitating for students. If your mind goes completely blank every time you sit down to take a test, or you feel like you're going to faint or be sick, you probably need to speak with your teacher, lecturer, or a personal development tutor. Don't be scared or ashamed to seek assistance. Anxiety at exam time can be a real psychological condition that can cause otherwise smart, hardworking students to perform poorly at exam time. Don't suffer in silence.