Keeping Calm Through Examinations

To a certain extent, a degree of exam anxiety can be beneficial. Without it, most students would find it difficult to perform on the day or to motivate themselves to revise beforehand.  Too much anxiety, however, can become disabling.  It is important that an optimal level be found, i.e. where some anxiety is experienced during an exam but not enough to interfere with thinking and writing.

What can you do about exam anxiety?

  • Prepare well in advance, but try not to work up until the last minute.
  • Don’t go to the exam too early.  Other people’s panic can be contagious.
  • Don’t frantically quiz each other just before the exam.
  • Allow yourself time to ‘warm up’ mentally, settle your nerves, and focus. Remain calm even if you don’t immediately know the first few questions.
  • When the fear comes, just pause.  Take a slow, deep breath. Focus your mind on the positive thought, “I can do this exam”, as you breathe out.
  • Don’t try to eliminate fear totally; just keep it manageable. Counter your anxiety with positive, reassuring thoughts: e.g. “It’s going to be okay”, “This is just anxiety and it will pass.”
  • Keep the focus on the present: what is it you have to do? 
  • Read over the exam and plan your approach. Stay relevant. If thoughts or ideas about other questions come into your mind, jot them down on a separate piece of paper, then return to the matter at hand.
  • Remember to breathe.