10 Ways To Overcome Exam Anxiety
You walk into the exam hall with heavy footsteps. You make your way to your seat and sit down only to find that your palms are even more sweaty than they were to begin with. Your heart starts to race and you can feel it thumping inside your chest. You may or may not start feeling queasy and really anxious. If you relate to this, even if just a bit, do not fret as this is what almost every student goes through when they sit for any test or assessment.
Exam anxiety, exam phobia or exam fever is the panic or anxiety that sets in during an exam and stems from a fear of failure resulting in symptoms which could mess up one’s performance in the test. Exam fever is a very common phenomenon and can have extreme consequences including full blow panic attacks. Depending on the level of anxiety that one might go through, it could be categorised into –low anxiety and high anxiety.
A state of low anxiety is more common than you think. Every student has to get through a phase of nervousness and anxiety before an exam but is able to stay focused and attempt all questions when anxiety and stress levels are low.However, when the anxiety has increased beyond an optimal level, i.e., a stateof high anxiety, it becomes a big problem as it can interfere with your performance in the test badly. Worry not, because this article brings to you afew ways to overcome test anxiety. Read on to find out.
Be mindful and confident
Everybody is unique and hence, techniques to help increase confidence. Start by developing strategies that help you visualise success and eventually being able to materialise it.Thoughts, vivid visualisations, frequent practice sessions, communication with peers and various other methods can help in your journey to success. You need to be mindful and focus on the present thing instead of letting your anxiety and panic take the wheel. Change your perception of anxiety and the fear instilled in you. Think of it as something exciting instead of something to be anxious about. Enter the exam hall with that aura of confidence and ace that exam. Avoid any activities that can break your confidence.
This goes without saying but make sure you are well prepared. Higher the level of preparation you have devoted your time to, lower is your level of anxiety. However, this is not to say that being well prepped will eliminate every ounce of nervousness and you will be absolutely stress-free. While you might still be a bit anxious, it will definitely help in drastically reducing your anxiety. Knowing that you have worked hard and have prepared thoroughly helps in increasing your confidence and eventually merges with the fact that you can do much better in your test if you are confident. Revise concepts, make short notes to refer to before the exam and anything else that you think would help you in answering the questions. Prepare well and the grade will take care of itself.
Do not cram at the last minute
A big no-brainer is that you should not try to cram until the moment right before the exam. Start preparing early and give yourself time to be rest easy and be calm on the night before the exam. Not doing so would do nothing but just make you more anxious. Trying to cram before the exam might make you feel like you have managed to cover a lot of the syllabus but there are few chances of you being able to actually retain the information correctly to answer everything correctly. The increased anxiety would only affect your performance in the test and nobody wants that. This is why, manage your time wisely and instead of procrastinating, complete your studies well before time so you don’t end up in a situation where you have to stay up late studying.
Get your beauty sleep
Now that you know how waiting till the last minute can be highly troublesome, you might want to manage your time well. With that being said, a solid 7-9 hours of sleep is needed to help you wake up refreshed and well-rested on the day of the exam. This is only possible if you have managed to cover most of the syllabus beforehand and you don’t need to worry at the last minute. You should, under no circumstances, pull an all-nighter as it will only worsen the situation. Thinking that caffeine would help in reducing drowsiness is another mistake students commonly make. You would not be well-rested and will probably end up with a headache in the wee hours of the morning. God forbid, you fall asleep while writing your paper.
Do not go into the exam hall with an empty stomach. In case your anxiety levels are already soaring high, an empty stomach or hunger is only likely to increase your stress. Make sure to eat a nutritious breakfast. Fruits and vegetables are known to reduce stress.Avoid sugary drinks as well as excessive amounts of caffeine as it induces stress. Your physical health is important and your brain needs the fuel to function effectively. So, cut down on the junk, make sure you eat the adequate amount of healthy food and drink plenty of water to stay hydrated. A smart idea is to pack snacks that provide a constant stream of nutrients in case you get any chances to replenish your energy during breaks.
Rushing to get to the test centre will heighten your anxiety levels. Give yourself ample time to get to the centre at least ten minutes early or so. Allow yourself enough time to get seated, organize your belongings and wait until the papers are distributed. If waiting until the paper is in your hands can make you feel even more anxious, try not to think about the fact that you’re in an examination centre. Bring along something that could calm you down or distract you a bit from the stress. At least, it’s better than scrambling to get your stuff together and running to the hall.
If you feel like your anxiety is getting worse and your nerves are exacerbated, pause for a moment. Relax and take a few deep breaths. Proper breathing technique could really help immensely in improving your performance. Breathing deeply through your diaphragm can lower your blood pressure and relax your muscles which in turn reduces stress.When your thoughts are a mess, try to calm down for a moment and meditate for awhile. Avoid talking or interacting with other anxious people or people who keep bringing up how well prepared they are. You do not need to know how everyone else is holding up. You need to be calm and collected without losing it. Make use of other relaxation strategies that are best suited to you.
Tunnel vision is the loss of peripheral vision with retention of central vision, resulting in a constricted circular tunnel-like field of vision. Now, when I tell you to activate tunnel vision, I do not necessarily mean it literally. During the exam, you might be stuck at a question. Then you look up only to find that everyone else is scribbling away at godspeed. This could leave you wondering if you are doing something wrong, if they know something that you do not. This is not a good idea because it would make you more anxious and you might start writing swifter. This increases chances of you making multiple errors. This is why you need to activate tunnel vision, figuratively, and not pay any heed to what others are up to. Remember, this is your assessment of how well versed you are in the subject. You do not have any reason to concern yourself with others during the test.
Positive reinforcement is the process of encouraging or establishing a pattern of behaviour by offering a reward when the desired behaviour is exhibited. Make a plan to reward or treat yourself once you have done well on your test. This would help in motivating you to do better and counter your anxiety to a considerable level. Most importantly, you need to recognise that you worked hard and exerted your best efforts.
Actual Test-taking Skills
You need to be mindful during the actual test that you are doing things correctly. Read every question carefully and don’t just skim through them. Keep an eye on the time and allot adequate time to each section of the paper and try to stick to that. Work at a comfortable pace but make sure you do not run out of time. Do not look at what others are doing during the test. If you feel like your mind has gone blank just start with the easier questions. Sometimes, you just need to get the ball rolling and gain momentum. This will make you feel confident enough to go on and attempt trickier questions eventually. Stay focused and all in all, make sure to conquer that test.