Exams, those formidable yet unavoidable milestones in our academic lives, can invoke an array of emotions – from excitement and determination to apprehension and outright dread. And while a touch of nervousness can sometimes be a driving force for success, for many, exam anxiety can become an all-consuming tempest, threatening to sabotage even the most prepared minds. The looming shadow of exam anxiety can cast doubts on our abilities and dampen our enthusiasm and if you have ever felt your heart race, palms sweat, or thoughts whirl as exams approach, rest assured that you are not alone.
Exam anxiety, also known as test anxiety or exam stress, goes beyond just the feeling of nervousness before exams and refers to a psychological condition characterized by feelings of intense worry, fear, and unease before, during, or after an examination. A certain amount of exam anxiety is common response to giving an exam and often is required to get us motivated to study and perform well. However, it becomes an issue when it is continuous , intense and hinders academic performance.
Exam stress can manifest in several physical , emotional , social and psychological ways and may look different for everyone but some common symptoms include:
- Difficulty getting motivated to start studying
- Tense muscles
- Clammy hands
- Feeling butterflies in your stomach
- Racing heartbeat
The experience of exam anxiety is a universal phenomenon that can significantly impact students’ performance, confidence, and overall mental health. As we delve into the realm of managing exam anxiety, we find ourselves at the crossroads of academic challenges and emotional well-being. Let us now uncover an array of effective effective strategies that can help us to deal with exam anxiety and achieve a better balance:
- Spaced learning is a study technique that involves breaking down study sessions into shorter, spaced intervals of time. Engaging in spaced learning would allow you to study a topic in multiple short study sessions with intervals of rest in between sessions creating opportunities for you to engage in activities outside of studying which would make the learning process less daunting and increase your confidence.
- It is also important to think about your energy levels and attention spasms while deciding on the length of your study sessions to allow you to be more efficient.
- Try to be kind to yourself and practice self compassion during this stressful period. Avoid guilt and self judgement while engaging in activities other than studying and be able to enjoy taking breaks and recognize that self care and leisure is a crucial part to your success and wellbeing.
- Pomodoro Technique: A time management strategy which includes having a working time period of 25 minutes followed by a 5 mins break. The time restriction creates a sense of urgency and encourages you to focus on the task as well as provides buffer against mental fatigue allowing you to be more productive and helps in increasing motivation.
- Positive Affirmations: Self affirming affirmations may help in keeping yourself motivated to approach a challenging task and improve your performance. Reminding yourself of your capabilities and strengths through positive affirmations may help in boosting your confidence and keep you going.
It is crucial to recognize that exam anxiety is a normal response to the pressure of exams, and seeking support from friends, family, teachers, or counselors can make a significant difference. Implementing effective study techniques, time management skills, and relaxation exercises can help alleviate the intensity of anxiety and foster a more positive learning experience. It is important to recognize that exams are a part of your life and do not define your worth and having awareness and working towards managing your responses can lead to a healthy mindset.
Intern, “IASIS | At Centro”
- Cirillo, F. (2018). The Pomodoro technique: The acclaimed time-management system that has transformed how we work (Currency ed.). Currency.
- James, A. (. p., & Taylor & Francis eBooks A-Z. (2020). Say ‘no’ to exam stress: The easy to use programme to survive exam nerves. Routledge.
- Yeung, J., Djarv, T., Hsieh, M. J., Sawyer, T., Lockey, A., Finn, J., Greif, R., Lightfoot, D., Singletary, E., Morley, P., Bhanji, F., on behalf of the Education, Implementation and Team Task Force and Neonatal Life Support Task Force of the International Liaison Committee on Resuscitation (ILCOR), & Education, Implementation and Team Task Force and Neonatal Life Support Task Force of the International Liaison Committee on Resuscitation (ILCOR). (2020). Spaced learning versus massed learning in resuscitation — A systematic review. Resuscitation, 156, 61-71. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.resuscitation.2020.08.132