Dealing With Exam Anxiety

Believe it or not, the rest of your life doesn’t depend on whether you pass your next exam

Students feel an immense pressure to perform well on their exams. Some even act as if they believe the rest of their life depends on one exam. Here’s some good news: it doesn’t. Unfortunately, that fact probably won’t save you from experiencing high levels of stress during your exam period. To make matters worse, as stress increases, performance on exams is often negatively affected. Thus, it’s vital that students learn techniques to help ease their anxiety during exam time.

Symptoms of exam anxiety include:

  • Strong feelings of helplessness or inadequacy
  • Frustration or anger (often directed at yourself) over not understanding a key concept
  • The sensation that your mind has gone blank or, conversely, that your thoughts are speeding out of control
  • The sensation that the room is closing in on you
  • An accelerated heartrate, difficulty breathing, excessive sweating, dry mouth or lightheadedness
  • Excessive fidgeting, pacing or an inability to remain stationary
  • Headaches, nausea or diarrhea
  • Uncontrollable crying or laughter

Taking Control

The best strategy to control exam anxiety is to remove the main factor that causes anxiety: lack of preparation. The more you study, the less anxious you’ll feel. Nothing melts away the tension better than knowing that you’re fully prepared for your exam.

Another way to deal with anxiety is to face it head-on. Many students are able to overcome anxiety by using their stress as motivation and redirecting their nervous energy towards concentration and preparation. If you can’t sleep because you’re worried about an upcoming exam, don’t lie in bed feeling like the world is going to end. Get up and do something productive. Hit the books for an hour or try going for a brisk walk to burn off some of your anxiety. Exercise is a great stress reliever.

Eat healthy when studying for a test, as well as on test day. Fresh fruits and vegetables contain chemicals that are great for eliminating stress. Stay away from processed foods (including all products made with white four), junk food (soda, candy and most fried foods) and red meat.

Finally, be sure to think positively and be confident. Anxiety can’t affect you if you develop the right mindset.

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