Do you also feel that your mind freezes during exam days? Do you doubt yourself and go into a thinking mode of “I can’t do this”? Does your heart too races fast or you struggle to find your breath during exams?
It happens a lot and most people feel anxious during exams, but according to a research done by Cambridge University, some students are more likely to suffer from exam anxiety than other students. So why is this difference? And what can be done to calm down your nerves?
So what is this exam anxiety?
It is the moment of feeling an intense fear and panic before or during any kind of exam or assessment. Exam anxiety is mainly of two types:
1) Low anxiety: Students experiencing low anxiety may feel too nervous but they still manage to focus their attention on the studies. Usually, these students are not struck with intriguing thoughts or feel debilitated during an exam.
2) High anxiety: Students experiencing high exam anxiety usually show an immediate anxiety response when they are exposed to any feared test situation. In severe cases, they break down and do not show up for the exam.
Is anxiety always harmful?
Anxiety is not always harmful. It can be useful if you are in danger like jumping out of the way of a car. It increases your attention to any threatening situation and improves your response time or what you call impulse to action.
But when the threat we are facing is cognitive, like an exam it’s certainly not helpful.
Some physical response to high exam anxiety is damp hands, speeding heart, feeling queasy and rapid breath. The thoughts involved in exam anxiety usually include thinking negatively about your performance and also thinking that “I’m going to fail”, ” My heart may pound out of my chest” or “I quit”.
Psychologists have designed a wide range of techniques to manage anxiety levels. The main goal of techniques is to help students understand the nature of anxiety they are having and as a result of that understanding, they can know how to cope up with their anxiety effectively.
One of the techniques is Mindfulness. It is the state where student tries to stay in the present and calmly acknowledge their anxious feelings.
So how do you cope up with high exam anxiety?
Next time when you are getting ready for exams try to:
- Use sample test papers. They are not only good for your preparations but they are also an opportunity to manage exam anxiety
- Prepare ahead of time. Work on sections in which you are weak
- Lookout and identify your exam anxiety early by noticing your pre-anxiety symptoms
- Self-talk can be really helpful. Try replacing your anxiety causing thoughts by challenging them
- Don’t get entangled in your own anxiety by thinking “what if I fail”. Practice focusing your mind and attention on the task at hand
- Learning some skills for reducing physical response to exam anxiety can be helpful
- Pay attention to your sleep, exercise regularly, balanced nutrition, relaxation routines and do not hesitate to reach out for some social support from your family and friends
Following these tips and techniques can certainly help your exam anxiety for good and will surely have a positive impact on your exam result.
So, staying in the moment is the keyword here, for exam anxiety and for a happy life overall as well.