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Overcoming Exam Anxiety

Updated: May 23

Exam season and upcoming tests in general are known to cause feelings of anxiousness and raise stress levels in students. For some, the reality of having to write an exam in the near future can be so overwhelming that this feeling can severely impact their academic outcomes and even their mental health. Luckily, there are proven effective tips that you can utilize that will help to alleviate these nerves and allow you to break out of this stressful cycle so that you can focus on the task at hand while maintaining your cool.

Properly Prepare Yourself

Prepping yourself doesn't only include scheduling out your study time leading up to your exam efficiently. It goes without saying how incredibly important that aspect is, however, that is only part of the steps needed to help you feel fully ready on exam day. If your exam is at school or at another location where travel is required, be sure to plan out your commute ahead of time so that you can arrive to the exam location early. This will relieve you of any worries surrounding punctuality and potentially missing out on some crucial exam writing time. If your exam is online and you can write it at home, the same idea applies. Wake up early enough to give yourself plenty of time to clear up any sleepy brain fog, have a glass of water or some coffee, goto the bathroom, and all the other things that are a part of your morning routine. Prepare a pencil case or bag of any tools you may need throughout your exam such as pens, pencils, calculators, school ID, etc. the night before so that you can easily grab it on your way out the door or have it beside your computer ready to go. This will reassure you that you have everything you need and you won't need to stress about it last minute.

Get A Good Night's Sleep

As tempting as cramming can be the night before a big test or exam, don't do it.

Sleep is incredibly important when it comes to recalling information and processing the details of each question being asked. With that being said, studies show that studying right before falling asleep actually improves memory so going over your notes before bed is a great plan. But just to be clear, studying and then sleeping at 9 pm - good, studying and then sleeping at 3 am - bad.

Fuel Your Body

In addition to properly preparing yourself as mentioned in Tip #1, it's also a great idea to plan out your meal or snacks you want to eat before your exam ahead of time. If you suffer from exam anxiety, food may be the last thing on your mind. With an anxious mind and butterflies in your stomach, hunger usually isn't the core focus prior to an exam. But the brain requires food that it can use as energy in order to perform at its optimal level. Do your best to prepare a nutrient dense meal or snacks that will sustain you for longer periods of time so that your body has an adequate amount of energy and so a growling stomach doesn’t become a distraction while you write your exam.

Focus On You

Many students find it challenging to fully focus on their exam while they are in a room with others, whether that be other students in an exam hall or family members walking past you in the living room. Whatever your situation is, it is important to keep yourself in a positive mindset and allow the distractions around you to fall away from your focus. Do not allow others who are scribbling away at their papers to deter you from your own work. Dedicate your attention to reading each question carefully and creating a physical or mental outline on how you need to answer each one to ensure every point is touched upon. Some individuals even find it helpful to create a phrase or mantra that they can repeat to themselves while they write their exam in order to motivate them, keep them calm, and keep them on track.

We hope you found these tips helpful and give them a try this coming exam season!

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