Effective ways to cope with exam anxiety
Maybe this has happened to you; you spend countless days studying for your end of semester exams but when you enter the exams room and are issued with the question paper, your mind freezes and goes bank! Your palms start to sweat and you feel a large hole in your stomach. Your heart starts pounding too and you begin to think, “I wasn’t really meant for this” or “I shouldn’t be here”. All these are signs of anxiety and are more common to students than you may think. So why does this happen? How can you stop it? In this article, we are going to answer these questions and provide you with tips on how to deal with exam anxiety so that you can handle your papers stress free. Let’s get started!
Exam anxiety: what is it?
Exam anxiety is the feeling of intense panic or fear prior to or during an assessment. It can be categorized into low and high anxiety. Studentsexperiencing low anxiety feel a bit nervous about the exam but are still able to prepare for it and tackle the questions presented. Usually, students who have low anxiety are not quite affected by the exam and can handle it without feeling intimidated. Those experiencing high anxiety on the other hand sow immediate reaction to the situation. Some may even avoid taking the paper while those who are a little strong will still try to endure it but with lots of fear. Anxiety can be caused by lack of adequate exam preparation, bad experience handling exams in the past, or fear of failing. Sometimes you can feel nervous too if you are unwell or don’t like the subject in which you are being tested. Knowing how to manage anxiety is the only way to be sure that you will do your exam well and achieve your grades.
The secret to reducing exam anxiety is starting your revision early. A month before the exam will be the perfect time to study for your exams depending on what year you are in and where you are in the syllabus. If you haven’t been creating enough time for personal study, then you need to start your revision earlier than this because definitely, you will have a lot to cover before your exam date. Revision is looking at something again to refresh your mind and knowledge. If you are reading something for the first time, then it is going to take a while before it sticks to your mind and if the subject you are studying isone of those broad disciplines, then come exam time, you are going to feel nervous if you will not have completed your revision.
If you have been revisiting your notes regularly, then doing revision for your exams won’t be hard and chances are good you will have done most of the part by the time you are doing the exam. If you have less than a month to study, don’t overwhelm yourself by trying to read what you don’t know. Be realisticabout yourself and what you can cover within the remaining period. Perhaps you can ask your lecturer for guidance on the same and try to find out where most of the test questions will be derived from.
Exam anxiety tips
1. Prepare enough
This is one of the best exam preparation tips and as we have just mentioned, being ready is key to coping with exam anxiety. If you plan to start your exams early, you will have less material to cover few days to the exam. If you are confident that you have prepared thoroughly, there is nothing to worry about because you know that a good fraction of the test questions will be from what you have already studied.
Speaking of, being adequately prepared doesn’t only involve reading your notes but also taking enough time to complete your assignments. Most lecturers will repeat the same questions they gave on the assignments in the exams and so it is important to do these perfectly to improve your chances of passing the test. And don’t worry if you don’t know how to do your assignment; you can always seek homework help from your friends or online academic help experts. Just make sure you have read the material that contains the answers to know how to tackle similar problems if they are presented in the test. This will give you te confidence you need to boost your morale and help you face the paper without feeling nervous.
2. Sleep well
Have adequate sleep the night before the exam. Don’t stay up all night cramming the following day’s paper because this will not only exacerbate your nerves but there is a high chance that you will have forgotten everything before the exam starts. Read everything you need well in advance so that you don’t end up rushing and stressing yourself the last minute. This is the only way to ensure that you don’t get nervous on the big day.
3. Exercise and fuel up
Get up early on your test day and take a 30 minutes jog to refresh your mind. Also, make sure you eat a healthy breakfast. Foods rich in omega 3 will be your best bet,as these are known to boost memory. Avoid diet that has high content of sugar. If you want to eat something sweet, eat fruits instead. These will keep your brain functioning properly and help you remember most of the things you learnt when preparing for the exam.
4. Get to the exam room early
It doesn’t make sense to get to the testing site when your lecturer has already issued the question papers. You need to make sure you have reached in good time so that you can organize your desk and get ready before you receive your question paper. Pack up every item you need for the test the night before so that you don’t have to rush in the morning as this can easily amplify the anxiety. You don’t want to be looking for your geometry set when you should be seated on your desk waiting for your test. Don’t forget to set the alarm too as this is one of those days you are more likely to wake up late.
5. Read the questions carefully
Nothing can cause more nervousness than realizing that you have answered a question wrong when the time is already up. To avoid finding yourself in such a situation, read your question again and again so that you can understand what is required of you. This will enable you to start drafting your answer correctly and remain on track until the end.
6. Just start
Do not wait for too long before starting your paper. Sometimes staring at a blank page can cause anxiety and make you forget what you want to write. Once you have read the questions and have some points to back up your answer, draft an outline and start figuring out how the points you have jotted down can fit in together to form a complete answer. This will give you the confidence to start writing. You can always come back and change areas that you find not satisfactory.
7. Don’t mind what others are doing
One of the greatest mistakes students make in an exam room ispaying attention to what the others are doing. Nothing will amp your anxiety like seeing everyone is scribbling something on their answersheet while you still have no idea on what you are going to write. Forget for a moment that there are other students in the room and think only about yourself. It doesn’t matter how many pages they have written or how many more blank answer sheets they have requested. Just mind about your own pace; after all, everyone will be awarded their marks individually.
8. Time yourself
Even if there is a clock in the exam room, it would be wise to bring your wrist watch. This one will be easier to check and you can even set a timer for each question. The last thing you want is to spend too much time on one question only to realize that you only have a few minutes left yet there are still plenty of questions to go. It is quite hard to do anything constructive during these last minutes. Manage your time by checking your watch frequently. That way, you will be able to finish your paper promptly and still have enough time to go back and check your answers for errors.
Exam anxiety can ruin your life as a student. But if you know how to prevent and deal with it when it happens, then you will be able to tackle your exams perfectly. Use the tips above and you will keep exam nervousness at bay.