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Exam Stress? Worry Not!

Many people experience stress or anxiety before an exam. In fact, a little nervousness can actually help you perform your best. However, when this distress becomes so excessive that it actually interferes with performance on an exam, it is known as test anxiety.

What Does It Feel Like To Experience Test Anxiety?

You paid attention in class, took detailed notes, read every chapter, and even attended extra study sessions after class, so you should do great on that big exam, right? When the test is presented, however, you find yourself so nervous that you blank out the answers to even the easiest questions. If this experience sounds familiar, you might be suffering from test anxiety.

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So What Causes Test Anxiety?

For many students, it can be a combination of many things. Commonly, bad study habits, poor past test performance, and underlying anxiety problems can contribute to test anxiety.

Biological Causes Of Exam Stress: In stressful situations, such as before and during an exam, the body releases a hormone called adrenaline. This helps prepare the body to deal with what is about to happen and is commonly referred to as the fight-or-flight response. Essentially, this response prepares you to either stay and deal with the stress, or escape the situation entirely. In a lot of cases, this adrenaline rush is actually a good thing. It helps prepare you to deal effectively with stressful situations, ensuring that you are alert and ready. For some people, however, the symptoms of anxiety they feel can become so excessive that it makes it difficult, or even impossible, to focus on the test. Symptoms such as nausea, sweating, and shaking hands can actually make people feel even more nervous.

Psychological Causes Of Exam Anxiety: In addition to the underlying biological causes of anxiety, there are many mental factors that can play a role in test anxiety. Students' expectations are a major psychological cause. For example, if a student believes that she will perform poorly on an exam, she is far more likely to become anxious before and during the test. Test anxiety can also become a vicious cycle. After experiencing anxiety during one exam, students may become so fearful about it happening again that they actually become even more anxious during the next exam. After repeatedly enduring test anxiety, students may begin to feel helpless about changing their situation.

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10 Tips To Minimise Exam Stress And Test Anxiety

So what exactly can you do to prevent or minimise test anxiety? Here are some strategies:

1. Make Sure You're Prepared: This means studying for the test early until you feel comfortable with the material. Don't wait till the night before. If you aren't sure how to study, ask your teacher or parent for help. Being prepared will boost your confidence, which will lessen your test anxiety.

2. Banish Negative Thoughts: If you start to have anxious or defeated thoughts, such as "I'm not good enough,""I didn't study hard enough," or "I can't do this," push those thoughts away and replace them with positive thoughts. "I can do this,""I know the material," and "I studied hard. This can go far in helping manage your stress level when taking a test.

3. Get Enough Sleep: A good night's sleep will help your concentration and memory.

4. Take Deep Breaths: If you start to feel anxious while you're taking your test, breathe in deeply through your nose and out through your mouth. Work through each question or problem one at a time, taking a deep breath in between each one as needed. Making sure you are giving your lungs plenty of oxygen can help your focus and lend a sense of calm

5. Avoid The Perfectionist Trap: Don't expect to be perfect. We all make mistakes and that's okay. Knowing you've done your best and worked hard is really all that matters, not perfection.

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6. Surround Yourself With Positive People: Who you spend your time with matters a lot, so try to stay away from opinionated and negative people; their words should not bother you. Forget about others, you are you and that’s what is important.

7. Practice As Per The Clock: Watch your pace during exams, go first for what’s important and you know well. This way you can save a lot of time, investing it wisely on important questions, and increasing productivity.

8. Don’t Be Distracted: Avoid using social media (Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat etc). You may not realise it, but they will consume a lot of your time and productivity.

9. Don’t Multitask: It can be bad for health, it increases your heart rate, blood pressure and causes stress. Multitasking may seem like you are being efficient, but it actually reduces the quality of your work. Focus on one thing at a time.

10. Eat Or Drink Dark Chocolate: They actually work as good stress relievers as they help release dopamine, the pleasure hormone in your body.

These are some really basic and day to day steps you can follow. Keeping calm during exams is very important. Write things down that are important, spend time with loved ones, be flexible, accept things, and breathe! Always remember that exams are just a part of life, not life. Don’t measure your value on the basis of your marks.

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1 Comment

Anil Sabharwal
Anil Sabharwal
May 28, 2021

Very good pieces of advice.

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