It’s normal to feel nervous before an exam but some students experience more severe levels of anxiety that impact their performance. If excessive fear of failure, sweaty palms, a racing heart, blank mind sound all too familiar, check out our cheat sheet for combating the anxiety.
Start Preparing Early
Tutors are usually happy to provide information on exam question style and general content – they don’t want you to fail! Give yourself adequate time to revise based on their advice. Consider a structured learning approach by putting together a study schedule and revising small chunks of information each day. You could also create a study group with classmates and try practice exams.
Rest Up, Fuel Up
We know it’s easier said than done, but try to get a good night’s sleep rather than cramming all night, which will leave you more tired and stressed. Then, manage your energy levels with a nutritious breakfast and pack some healthy snacks that will release a steady stream of energy rather than deliver a rollercoaster of sugar highs and crashes. Don’t forget to stay hydrated too!
Little adjustments to your routine can help reduce stress on the big day. Pack everything you need the night before so you don’t forget anything, set multiple alarms to ensure you wake up on time, and leave for the venue early to avoid rushing. If you have other anxious friends, think about wishing them good luck the night before rather than at the venue so their nervousness can’t heighten your own.
Monitor Your Self-talk
Negative thoughts such as, “I haven’t studied enough”, “I’m not smart enough, or, “I always fail” are a common part of exam anxiety and they can easily spiral out of control. Consider how rational and helpful these thoughts are, tell yourself to STOP, and try some more balanced thoughts, like, “I’ve prepared for this” or, “I studied and I’m smart enough to pass”.
Practice Relaxation Techniques
Relaxation techniques such as progressive muscle relaxation, deep breathing, and guided imagery are staples of treating anxiety. Talk to a psychologist about learning these skills or use online videos and apps to teach yourself. Practice regularly in the weeks leading up to the exam and during the exam if necessary to focus your attention and calm yourself down.
Visualisation is a great technique for helping to achieve your goals. In the weeks before your exam, imagine yourself feeling confident and relaxed as you’re writing your answers and it’s more likely to happen on the big day.
We have faith that you’ve got this – good luck!