Has this ever happened to you? You’ve been studying hard for your chemistry midterm, but when you walk into your exam, your mind goes blank. As you sit down to start your test, you notice your sweaty palms and a pit in your stomach.
If these classic signs of test anxiety sound familiar, your grades and test scores may not reflect your true abilities.
Here are 10 strategies to prevent panic from getting between your true potential and your marks again. Select which ones you think are most relevant for you and start applying them in your life.
Waiting until the night before a test to start studying is likely to spike your anxiety. You will be crunched for time, you will not have time to ask questions or find lost information, likely feel overwhelmed, and otherwise be in a bad situation.
Instead of waiting until the last minute, start studying as soon as a test is scheduled. With several days or even a week to prepare, you’ll feel more relaxed because you have plenty of time to learn the material.
Do a “memory dump” of information you are afraid you will forget on a rough sheet of paper when you first receive the question paper.
Don’t focus on getting rid of the anxiety because that will only feed the anxiety
Sometimes changing the approach of how you think can have a major impact. Maintain an attitude of doing the best you can under the circumstances, rather than requiring perfection from yourself.
Plan a reward for yourself after the exam. Praise yourself as you write the exam; tell yourself, “half done and so far, so good.”
While under stress, it is very easy to “catastrophize”—that is, think the very worst of the situation and get worried about what is unlikely to happen, but mildly possible. This can set off a chain reaction, in which the student gets more anxious, more distracted, more worried, and then less likely to do well. Some mindsets to help put things in perspective:
Exercise and physical activity are great ways to reduce anxiety. Physical activity releases endorphins that elevate your mood. It will also distract your mind from the test and studying, so your brain will have a chance to relax and refresh itself. Any form of physical activity will have a beneficial effect on your anxiety. They include, but certainly aren’t limited to:
You might have certain friends or acquaintances who also suffer from test anxiety and always vocalize their fears. This doesn’t mean you can’t be friends with them, but it might be best to take some space from them while you’re trying to study or before the exam. You might be making a good effort to curb your own anxiety, and their fears could in-turn set you back.
Exam fear is often based on illogical thoughts. You need to remember that you have studied well and that you would know most of the answers in the exam. This will bring your mind back to reality and help break down illogical fears.
This is an obvious one, right? Everyone knows that sleep is not just a requirement for academic success but is necessary for good health. Lack of sleep carries with it a number of negative symptoms including lessened affability, memory problems, diminished critical thinking skills as well as anxiety and nervousness. You should try to get a minimum of 7-8 hours of solid sleep each night in order to maintain good health and calm those nerves.
Sometimes, the symptoms of anxiety can be so severe that they interfere with your everyday life. If you find that you experience anxiety symptoms on a regular basis, don’t be afraid to ask for help.
Talk to your parents, teachers, and guidance counselors. Get help sooner rather than later. By getting help early on, you can get a handle on your anxiety before it starts to trouble you more.
Did we miss anything here? Tell us in the comment section how you calm your nerves before and during the exams.
Raza has been writing since 2008, be it fiction, poetry, or articles on science, politics, and history. He believes that words can change the world, and he uses them to inspire and empower people through his writing. When he is not working, he is watching nature documentaries or playing with his cats.
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