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Will I pass my exam? How to prevent panic before exams

Team StoryWeavers|March 21, 2022, 12:51 IST|

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.

Leave yourself reasonable time for studying

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.

Use exam anxiety strategies

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.

  • Read through the exam at the beginning and figure out how much time to spend on each question, according to what each question is worth
  • To build confidence, start with questions you know rather than focusing on the ones you don’t (only if you are allowed to jumble the order of your answers).
  • Start with any multiple-choice or True/False section to gain clues that might help you answer other questions.
  • Take 30-second “mini-breaks” at specified points during the exam to use a relaxation strategy such as closing your eyes, relaxing your hands, and breathing deeply.

If your thoughts are racing and your mind becomes cluttered with worries:

Don’t focus on getting rid of the anxiety because that will only feed the anxiety

  • Mentally yell “STOP” to break the cycle
  • Take a 30-second “mini-break”
  • Concentrate hard on a specific sensation (e.g.: the hum of the lights in the room) to clear your mind of anxiety; OR
  • Be with your anxiety – concentrate on your physical symptoms. If you can completely experience a physical sensation, it often disappears.

Let’s have a positive approach!

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.”

Keep the exam in perspective

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:

  • If you have been doing well in exams throughout the class, it is likely you will do well on this particular test.
  • If you do not do well, it is probably not the end of the world as you know it!

Stay active

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:

  • Going to the gym.
  • Taking a walk.
  • Doing housework.
  • Riding your bike.
  • Working outside.
  • Playing sports.
  • Yoga
  • Swimming

Avoid people who generate anxiety when studying

 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.

Replace illogical thoughts with logical one

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.

  • Once you’ve isolated the thought that “I will definitely fail this test tomorrow,” replace it with, “I’ve been studying all week, I know this material, and it’s within my power to do well on this test.” This new pattern of thinking breaks down your fear that was based on nothing, and replaces it with a new thought that is rooted in reality. soldiers are often told by their seniors to remember that they have trained for this, when these soldiers get cold feet in an actual war.

Get Enough Sleep

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.

Seek help if you need it

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.

About the Author


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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