Introduction: Managing Exam Anxiety
When exams are drawing closer and deadlines are looming, it is natural to feel a sense of exam anxiety. History has shown us that working under pressure can actually help people to work more efficiently and improve performance. However, there is a difference between feeling pressure and feeling anxious, stressed and worried all the time.
Feeling stressed has serious emotional and physical consequences and typically, people become irritable, can’t sleep and lose their appetite. When you’re anxious, you can often feel like you’re alone and without support. In addition, it’s easy for this feeling to spiral out-of-control and affect other aspects of your life. Feeling really anxious can lead to panic attacks and may adversely affect your performance in exams.
Exam anxiety has causes and these include:
- A series of bad experiences in previous exams that has led to anxiety about exams generally.
- Worrying about the impact that not passing an exam will have on your future.
- Not feeling prepared enough.
The good news is that there are ways to manage exam anxiety to help to reduce the feeling of being worried or uneasy about exams. Here are some top tips to help you to manage exam anxiety:
- Remember that you’re not alone – there are lots of charitable organisations out there to help you to manage exam anxiety. In addition, your university will have a counsellor who you can talk to confidentially about any issues that you have. It’s important that you don’t suffer in silence and you should bear in mind that talking about the issue will make it easier for someone to help you.
- Make a really early start on your revision – if you know that you always worry about whether you are prepared enough for exams, it is wise to start revision as early as possible. Revision is about reinforcing your knowledge so if you start early, it will give you time to work out what you are finding difficult and you can then speak to your university or tutor about it.
- Take regular breaks – studying for hours on end can lead to fatigue and affect your ability to concentrate. When you are under pressure, it can definitely be difficult to think about taking a break but removing yourself from the situation can be refreshing and lead to greater productivity when you start work again.
- Avoid people who keep talking about exams – talking to people who are constantly worried about exams can make you more anxious and contribute to exam anxiety. It is helpful to take some time away from other people nervous about exams and to surround yourself with people who will motivate you.
- Avoid unhealthy habits – drinking alcohol, not sleeping enough and relying on artificial energy drinks with lots of unnatural substances can seem like the answer to the problem but it can actually make you feel a lot worse in the long term. It’s important to avoid anything unhealthy and maintain a balanced diet and drink plenty of water.