You walk into the exam room and your mind goes blank. You sit in your seat and your feeling a knot in your stomach and sweaty palms. This is classic exam anxiety.
It’s very normal to feel nervous before an exam, but some people find exam anxiety to be quite debilitating. You may have racing thoughts, an inability to concentrate or feelings of dread that may combine with physical symptoms like a racing heartbeat, headache or nausea. This can derail weeks and possibly months of hard work.
The cause of exam anxiety may be the result of a fear of failure, the lack of adequate preparation time or a bad experience taking an exam in the past. Be assured, you are not on your own feeling this way! Here are 10 tips which we hope if implemented will help you stay calm in the days leading up to and during your exam
It seems obvious but it can’t be repeated enough times. Feeling confident that you are thoroughly prepared for your exam will make you feel more confident walking into the exam room
Get a good night’s sleep
Cramming and all night revision sessions can actually exacerbate your anxiety. Getting a good night’s sleep will be more beneficial to you
Eat a nutritious breakfast before the exam and have some high protein snacks with you in the exam room to give you energy. Make sure you eat foods that are high in nutrients rather than things that provide a sugar rush which will be followed by a crash!
Get to the exam early
Being on the last minute will increase your anxiety. Pack everything you need the night before, set your alarm and set off in good time
Have a positive mental attitude
Decide upon a moral boosting saying or mantra that suits you – for example “I can do this” or “I worked hard and I deserve this.” Silently recite this right up to the exam starting
Read the paper carefully
Use your reading time to consider all questions before making a choice (if you have one) about the questions you are going to attempt. There is nothing worse than realising at the end that you’ve not actually answered the question you’ve been asked! Slow down and maintain focus
The blank page can maximise your anxiety. Once instructed to begin, use your reading time to plan out your answers. Begin with the question you feel most confident about – this will give you a boost and help you pick up pace
Ignore what other people are doing
Don’t panic because other people are scribbling away. It doesn’t matter and it doesn’t mean they know any more than you do. Just pay attention to yourself and forget about everyone else
Watch the clock
Don’t get caught out from a time point of view. Pace yourself and mentally allocate how much time you are going to spend on each question. Always build in 5-10 minutes at the end to go over your answers
Focus on calm breathing and positive thoughts
Deep breathing can slow down a beating heart or racing mind so its good to practice techniques at home. There is lots of information and actual demonstrations on YouTube. In particular, look at ‘block breathing.’ Actually concentrating on your breathing can reduce your anxious feelings
Good luck everyone!