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Conquering Exam Anxiety: Tips and Tricks for a Stress-Free Test Day

March 11, 2023


Exam anxiety is a feeling of nervousness, worry and fear that you will not do well on an exam. It can affect your performance in the test and lead to poor grades.
Exams are stressful because they require you to use your knowledge, skills and understanding in order to answer questions correctly. If you don't know the answers or feel confident about them, then this can cause stress and make it harder for you to think clearly during an exam.

Physical Symptoms of Exam Anxiety

  • Headaches
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Increased heart rate
  • Sweaty palms and/or armpits, which can lead to you feeling clammy and uncomfortable in the exam room.

Mental Symptoms of Exam Anxiety

  • Lack of focus.
  • Difficulty concentrating.
  • Difficulty remembering information.
  • Feeling overwhelmed or panicked, as if you can't think straight and it's hard to breathe because your heart is pounding so fast--and all this happens before the test even starts!

Techniques to Combat Exam Anxiety

  • Create a study plan. Make sure you have a clear idea of what topics you need to study, and how much time each topic will take. This can help keep anxiety at bay when it comes to exam day.
  • Practice relaxation techniques. Anxiety can cause your heart rate and blood pressure to increase, so take some time out of every day to relax with deep breathing exercises or meditation--even if it's only for 5 minutes!
  • Get enough sleep before the exam; this will help keep your brain running smoothly during the test itself!
  • Stay organized throughout this process: make sure all of your materials are together in one place (e-books/notes), write down important dates on calendars so they don't slip through the cracks, etc., etc., etc...the list goes on!

Creating a Study Plan

It's important to set achievable goals and break down material into manageable chunks. For example, if you have a big exam coming up, it's best to start studying as soon as possible. However, if you've procrastinated until the night before the test, don't panic! You can still get through it by creating an action plan that includes:

  • Setting aside time every day for studying (even if it's just 10-15 minutes)
  • Creating a study schedule with specific times for each subject or topic
  • Taking breaks between studying sessions

Practicing Relaxation Techniques

  • Deep breathing. This is one of the most common relaxation techniques and can be done anywhere, anytime. Simply take deep breaths, inhale through your nose and exhale through your mouth while counting to five or 10 as you do so.
  • Progressive muscle relaxation (PMR). PMR is another simple method that involves tensing and relaxing specific muscles in order to elicit a physical response that helps calm both mind and body. Start with one muscle group at a time--for example: feet then calves, thighs then buttocks--and focus on tensing each group for about five seconds before releasing tension and letting go completely for another five seconds before moving on to the next muscle group until all areas have been covered.* Guided imagery/meditation/yoga are all forms of meditation that involve focusing attention inwardly rather than outwardly; these activities may help reduce stress levels by reducing anxiety over time as well as improving moods overall

Getting Enough Sleep

The first thing to do is create a sleep schedule. Try to go to bed and wake up at the same time every day, even on weekends. If you're not used to this kind of consistency, it will take some getting used to, but it's worth it in the long run because it helps your body know what time of day it is and when it should be sleeping or waking up.
Next, limit caffeine and alcohol intake before bedtime; these substances make you feel more alert than usual which can make falling asleep difficult if consumed too close (or at all) before going to bed. Also avoid screens such as TV or computer monitors right before going off into dreamland--the bright light from these devices can make them harder for your brain's circadian rhythm system (which regulates sleep patterns) work properly! Finally, try exercising regularly during the day so that by nightfall all those endorphins are keeping you relaxed instead of wired!

Staying Organized

Staying organized is an important part of combating exam anxiety. It's easy to get overwhelmed with the amount of material you need to cover, so it's important that you create a study space that is conducive for learning and allows for focus.
If possible, try creating an area in your home where you can study without being distracted by other people or things around you. Make sure this space has all the materials needed for studying (i.e., paper, pens/pencils). Keeping these items together will make it easier when it comes time to actually start working on them!
In addition, make sure everything is organized so nothing gets lost or misplaced--this includes having all necessary books nearby as well as keeping track of assignments through calendars or planners (more on this later). This will help reduce stress by ensuring there will always be something available if needed!

Talking to Someone

Talking to someone is an effective way to reduce exam anxiety. You can talk to a friend or family member about the situation and ask for advice, or even just vent your frustrations. If you don't have anyone close enough who can help with this, then seeking professional help may be the best option for you.
Another option is joining a support group--there are many available online that focus on helping people deal with their anxiety problems.


Exam anxiety can be a very real, and sometimes debilitating, condition. It's important to remember that you're not alone in feeling this way. If you're experiencing exam anxiety, it's important to seek help from a professional if needed. However, there are many ways to combat exam anxiety on your own as well:

  • Practice self-care
  • Take breaks during study sessions
  • Get enough sleep and eat well before exams (this is especially important for night exams)

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