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Handling Exam Anxiety

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min read

It's all too common for students to feel a sense of dread when reviewing each big exam date on a new syllabus. Test anxiety, especially final exam anxiety, can cause racing thoughts, poor concentration, sweaty palms, and nausea. This can easily cause a student to lose control and put a halt to all their hard work.

If you find yourself experiencing exam anxiety, you're not alone. Exam anxiety can add crushing stress to the end of the semester. In this article, we'll discuss a few of the ways you can combat exam anxiety and shift your focus toward success. 

Understand the causes of exam anxiety.

Listening to your inner voice and analyzing why you're feeling anxious is the first step in overcoming exam anxiety. Common causes include fear of failure, inadequate preparation time, or negative past experiences with taking exams.

Practice mindfulness.

Exam anxiety is often accompanied by negative thoughts like "I can't do this" and a general sense of dread. Your thoughts may zero in on everything that could go wrong, or you may be dwelling on a past experience.

To combat this, try adding mindfulness techniques to your daily routine. Focus on the present, calmly acknowledge how you feel, and visualize a scene where you are completely relaxed. This will train your mind to relax anytime you feel anxiety creeping up on you. Paired with encouraging self-talk, this can be a powerful tool for overcoming anxious thoughts and feelings.

Prepare ahead of time.

Another common cause of exam anxiety is a lack of adequate time to study and prepare. If you feel unprepared going into an exam, your anxiety levels can quickly skyrocket. Mindfulness and measured breathing can help calm thoughts of dread.

Taking steps to prepare for the exam ahead of time can help you combat this anxiety before it occurs. Study in small sections each day leading up to the exam to make preparation more manageable. You can also use practice exams to mentally prepare for both the content and format of the exam. The more familiar the material seems, the less likely you are to feel anxious about it.

Put self-care first.

Above all, self-care should be your top priority. Taking care of your health and reaching out for help can make a difference in managing any type of anxiety. Your school may even have dedicated mental health resources available to help you work through your stress in a one-on-one setting. 

Remember that you're not alone in this struggle, so be kind to yourself. You've got this!

Last Updated:
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First Published:
September 24, 2021

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