Exam anxiety: How to get it under control
Probably every student gets acquainted with exam anxiety at some point. But there are ways and means to deal with it, alleviate it, and successfully master any exam.
#1 Understanding exam anxiety
Right off the bat, anxiety is not necessarily a bad thing. Nature set it up for us to recognize danger in time. This ancient evolutionary program is simply in us and has also been useful for many millennia, when we ran from wild animals or other dangers.
Today, anxiety can arise from other situations that seem threatening: for example, an exam in which we are afraid of failing. So exam or test anxiety is nothing more than a feeling that wants to tell you, “Hey, this is important to you!” In doing so, it sometimes overshoots the mark a bit. But understanding, that anxiety is a natural companion of every human being and test anxiety is just an expression of it, makes it easier to accept test anxiety, which already makes it smaller.
#2 Take good care of yourself
The more comfortable we feel in our own skin, the better we can cope with stress and the associated feelings such as test anxiety. Therefore, make sure you get enough sleep (at least 7 hours) and eat healthy with our recipes for students. It’s also important to plan enough breaks when you’re studying for an exam. Feeling well prepared greatly reduces exam anxiety.
Use great productivity techniques like the 52/17 rule. The principle is simple: you study for 52 minutes, take a 17-minute break, study for 52 minutes, take a 17-minute break, and so on. You can fill the breaks with enjoying a coffee, looking out the window, or taking a short walk. You will notice how your head clears from anxiety.
Furthermore, you should make sure to spend enough free time with family and friends. Here we have collected tips on how to make friends in a new city.
Whether alone or in company – spend time in nature regularly to get fresh air and sun. This is good for your body and mind, so you’ll soon be able to hit the ground running again and reduce your exam anxiety through relaxation. There are also effective relaxation techniques for this.
#3 Learn relaxation techniques
Relaxation techniques help to gain distance from the subject of exams, reduce exam anxiety and increase your own resilience. Many of them, like meditation, are quite simple to implement. Set yourself an alarm clock for 15 minutes and turn off all sources of interference such as the radio, smartphone, etc. Then sit comfortably on a chair or your bed. Close your eyes and focus your attention on your breath. Observe, how it flows in and out. Do this for 15 minutes.
At first it may feel unusual, you will probably get impatient after a few minutes or even seconds and want to stop the meditation. Try to stick with it! Because that’s what it’s all about: enduring doing nothing. When thoughts and feelings come up, just bring your attention back to your breath.
Do this meditation daily and you will quickly notice how it brings you deep relaxation. Practiced meditators can also do the meditation in the park or another public place.
If you feel stress or exam anxiety acutely, for example just before an exam, try the 3-minute-breathing-break in the following video. You can also do this in the restroom of the university to regulate your exam anxiety.