It can be the greatest fear of even the most diligent student: the dreaded final exam. For some, exams are an easy way to show off all they’ve learned during a course, but for others, the pressure of a timed test can be almost paralyzing. Sadly, this fear can damage an otherwise good student’s grades, particularly when the exam results represent a large portion of the overall grade. By adopting a few simple practices, exam anxiety can be greatly reduced, resulting in a better final grade and a happier end to the school term too.
Actively reduce stress in the week leading up to the exam.
Stress can be a vicious cycle that builds upon itself until it is unbearable. The worst situation you can find yourself in is getting stressed about how stressed you will be in the testing room. You can help mitigate this by creating a calming environment for yourself days before the big event. Avoid anything that tends to inch up your blood pressure and try a few calming activities like yoga or jogging to keep your body feeling relaxed.
Visualize yourself writing the exam successfully.
Visualization can be a powerful tool to achieve results. If you picture yourself in the exam room feeling calm and confident, you are more likely to have that actual experience when the time comes. Try to bring as much detail as you can to the visualization. Imagine the sights around the room, the sounds of pencils scratching against the paper, even the hum of the fluorescent lights overhead. Picture yourself looking at the questions and having the correct answers coming to mind. If you start to feel anxiety while doing this exercise, remind yourself to breath deeply and think positively about the test and your grasp of the answers.
Prepare, prepare and prepare some more.
The more you study, the less worried you will be. This means your studying doesn’t start the week before the exam; it means starting the first day of class. If you have kept up with your reading and assignments, taken practice tests and ensured you fully understood the materials throughout the course, you are much less likely to feel crushing pressure for the final test. Always remember that it’s much easier to keep up than to catch up. Knowing you have been a good student throughout the term will help you to feel like a good student when the self-doubt starts to creep in.
Almost all students experience exam anxiety at some point so it may help you to remember that you’re not alone. Talk to other students about test stress. Realizing that you’re in good company can be one of the most effective strategies to reduce your anxiety.