What is exam anxiety and How to overcome it


Do you find yourself asking this question, “I can’t do this?” or your mind goes blank during exams? Does your heart start beating fast and you find it hard to breathe while giving an exam or important test? Many people feel anxious when sitting for an exam, research shows that some people tend to suffer more exam anxiety than others. So, what can you really do to calm yourself down?

Exam anxiety is getting the feeling of intense fear or panic before or/and during the exam. There are two types of exam anxiety – low and high. Students who suffer from low examanxiety may feel a little bit nervous about upcoming tests but are able to focus their attention on their studies or on the question that ae being asked in the assessment. Student who suffer from high exam anxiety show immediate and intense anxiety reaction when exposed to attend a feared test/exam. They will do everything in their power to avoid the exam, or face it with extreme fear. High anxiety and can usually tip sense of panic and nervousness.


People with high or low anxiety respond differently to tests. Research says that managing stress and anxiety in an effective way can help you with exam performance. The main challenge is to realise when your anxiety reaches an optimal level so that it starts to affect your ability to complete the exam- this a very high level of anxiety.


The most common physical responses to high anxiety include fast beating heart, shortness of breath, damp hands and feeling queasy or nauseous. These responses are usually triggered when the anxiety gets high enough to trigger the “flight or fight” mode. This is how our body reacts to perceived threats- and while we are uncomfortable, this is not harmful in any way.

Anxiety can sometimes be useful in certain situations, for example, if you are in endangerment say when you have an encounter with a wild animal. It can help us to increase our attention to the threatening event and helps us improve our response. But it doesn’t prove useful when you are faced with something cognitive, like giving an exam.


Exam anxiety usually roots from negative thinking about your performance (or worry) and/or the physical reaction to an upcoming test is “I am going to fail,” Or “I quit.”

Research has shown that individuals experiencing exam anxiety tend to lose their performance in evaluating situations. These people perceive exams as intimidating and have intense emotional responses to it, that makes focusing on a task difficult. Exam anxiety may also interfere with a person’s ability to show academic and cognitive capabilities.


Process to cool of your nerves: Learning way to manage your anxiety do that it doesn’t take over your exam performance. The skills that are most useful in managing your anxiety will vary depending on thing that trigger your anxiety. If students experience high levels of anxiety before exams should engage in self-care techniques during the time by keeping a note of their sleeping, nutrition, relaxation routines and exercise.  You should not forget that these small steps can slowly consume your anxiety towards exams.

Tips for coping with exam anxiety:

  • Prepare ahead in time by working on sections of the content each day.
  • Try to identify your anxiety by noticing your physical response.
  • Try to solve as many practice papers as possible.
  • Try to focus more on the task at hand, rather than getting yourself tangled in thinking negative thoughts or anxiety.
  • Try replacing negative thoughts with encouraging self-talk.
  • Learn a few skills for reducing physical responses to anxiety.

Exam anxiety can be stressful and very unpleasant, but it is also treatable. If you feel like this anxiety is interfering with your everyday ability to perform, try utilising self-help strategies designed to manage and lower anxiety. If you are still struggling, talk to a counsellor, a mental health practitioner, or a primary care physician for more help and treatments.



Vural, P.I., Körpe, G. and Inangil, D., 2019. Emotional freedom techniques (EFT) to reduce exam anxiety in Turkish nursing students. European Journal of Integrative Medicine32, p.101002.

Çelik, E. and Yildirim, S., 2019. Examining Test Anxiety in Terms of Academic Expectations Stress and Motivation to Study= Sinavkaygisininakademikbeklentilereiliskinstresvedersçalismaya motive olmaaçisindanincelenmesi. Pegem Journal of Education and Instruction9(4), pp.1139-1158.

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