It is normal and even expected that you will have some anxiety before an exam. Some anxiety can even be helpful as it can motivate you to study and prepare yourself for the exam. Test Anxiety, however, often interferes with a student’s ability to prepare for an exam or it may cause you to “go blank” when taking the exam. This may make taking the exam and doing well on it very difficult.
Some Causes of Test Anxiety
- Not feeling well prepared
- Caused by procrastination
- Fear of failure
- Fear of success
- Issues of self-esteem
Physical and Cognitive Effects
- Rapid heartbeat
- stomach issues
- tense muscles
- Mouth feeling dry
- Trouble concentrating
- Trouble understanding what the question is asking
- Not being able to remember what you studied
- Difficulty organizing your thoughts
Techniques to Reduce Test Anxiety
- Be prepared for your exam. Review your notes daily, join study groups, use professor’s office hours, get a tutor from CAR, use the Writing Center for help with papers, study in small sections and test yourself on your knowledge.
- Negative self talk increases test anxiety. Try to replace your negative thoughts with more supportive self talk. For example: If you are thinking: I will fail this exam and have to drop out of school. Try replacing that thought with: I have studied for this exam, take a deep breath and write down what I know.
- If you can, you might want to practice staying calm and reviewing your notes in the exam setting. It’s good to rehearse doing well before the exam.
- Before you get to the exam, practice the relaxation exercises found on the Listen your way to calm section of the Center for Balance.
When you are Taking your Exam
- Answer the questions you know first
- If you feel stumped during the exam, take a few minutes to deep breath
- Re approach the exam and remember to use your positive self talk.