How to Reduce Exam Anxiety
This article has been written by Lydia McClelland, a VCE French, Music Theory, Literature & VCE English Tutor at Learnmate. If you’re interested in private tutoring from Lydia then please check out her page here.
Exam anxiety is an issue so many students deal with. People experience this at different levels: some students deal with nervousness before assessments, but are not incapacitated by this, while others experience much higher anxiety and find themselves dealing with extreme fear or panic in exam situations.
Of course, it might be impossible to totally eliminate anxiety, but learning to effectively manage it is a great way to improve exam performance and quality of life. Let’s look at a few ways we can combat the different types of exam anxiety.
- Consult a professional psychologist, especially if you are experiencing high levels of anxiety. It’s so important to notice when you are struggling and to then reach out for help. Know that you don’t have to deal with this on your own.
- Use relaxation strategies. The moments immediately before exams can be extremely stressful for many people. If you can, remove yourself from others – especially those who can’t stop talking about how nervous they are to everyone – and try out some different relaxation strategies; these are readily available online. Listen to a meditation online, or use some breathing techniques.
- Discuss with your school the possibility of special examination arrangements. It is possible that in exams you could be granted permission to have rest breaks, to take medication and/or to sit your exam in a separate room from others if needed.
- Use practice exams and prepare as well as you can. Anxiety exists for a reason: to help you respond to threats. Stress about exams might propel you to prepare yourself well; by preparing to the best of your ability, you might be able to alleviate some of that stress. It is when anxiety persists beyond this that it can have a very negative effect on performance and your mental health as a whole.
- Challenge your negative self-talk. It is easy to fall into a cycle of negative self-talk, focusing on all of your perceived flaws. This is much easier said than done, but try to practise noticing when you are being unkind to yourself, and challenge these thoughts. Try writing down a list of your strengths, or things which you are proud of. Leave this list somewhere visible to remind yourself of it frequently.
- Make sure you are taking care of yourself. This includes sleeping well (if you can), eating well, and allocating yourself enough time for exercise and time off study and work.
- On the day of the exam, get to the location early. This is a simple thing you can do – you never want to put more stress upon yourself by having to rush out of the door.
- Don’t pay attention to others. It can be stressful to notice your neighbour has finished writing in their entire booklet before you even reached page three. Examinations are a good time to apply tunnel vision: there is no point focusing on what anyone else is doing.
If you would like to read more about some specific coping methods, check out this document which compiles a variety of tips.
If you loved this article, you will LOVE all of our other articles, such as: Top 10 Study Tips for High School Students, How to Motivate Yourself to Study at Home and The Benefits and Importance of Learning About Grammar.
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