How You Can Overcome Test Anxiety for Better Performance

Ever had the experience of facing test anxiety during exam or test season? If you cannot relate, then do the following. Imagine yourself taking a test in an awfully depressing exam hall. You make an effort at attempting questions and realize that you are unable to recall anything that you have learned.

A heavy feeling begins to take over your chest and somehow, at this point, your thinking capacity has reached its limit. This feeling that was harboring in you has now become so overwhelming that you have started perspiring. Does this now sound familiar, right? We all have been here at some point in our lives.

The Test Anxiety!

test anxiety

Test anxiety is a form of a psychological condition characterized by severe uneasiness when one is put in a stressful position, that is, in the case of tests and exams. Test anxiety is a type of performance anxiety because it is caused by fear before taking exams.

It is important to distinguish anxiety from nervousness because nervousness is something normal in situations of performing something new. Nervousness drives the motivation to do better; however, anxiety is not the same because it can interfere with your performance and eventually mess up the outcome.

Causes of Test Anxiety

One of the primary reasons anxiety gets a grip on you is fear. The fear of failing, the fear of letting down others, the fear of not performing well, the fear of not being well-prepared, the fear of past failures repeating, and the fear of not reaching your goal.

All these fears just snowball and further activate your fight-or-flight response. The adrenal glands are stimulated, and this triggers a release of a series of hormones, including adrenaline. This response is completely necessary when there is a valid threat, but in our case, it has been triggered by an imaginary threat (fear).

The consequences result in an interference with the thought process, eventually making you lose focus on simple words. Hence, most of the students with test anxiety end up performing poorly in exams.


Physical symptoms:

  • headache 
  • rapid heartbeat
  • shaking 
  • perspiring
  • nausea 
  • feeling light-headed 
  • tense muscles 
  • dry mouth 
  • in extreme cases, students experience vomiting, and diarrhea

Emotional symptoms:

Behavioral symptoms:

  • zoning out mid-exam or revision session 
  • difficulty in focus, procrastination
  • feeling fidgety 
  • some students resort to drugs to cope with stress

Easy Ways to Overcoming Test Anxiety

  1. Prepare well for your exam. This can help reduce the chances of you being stressed during the exam/test time.
  2. Engage in positive self-talk to promote an optimistic mind and to avoid negative thoughts. This will not only help boost your confidence while attempting the paper but will also help you come out of your perfectionist zone, making you satisfied with your hard work.
  3. Taking regular breaks while revising for course material will help you retain the information. In this way, you would not be forgetting information since you will start studying afresh.
  4. Practicing breathing techniques regularly makes a huge difference. One of the effective breathing techniques is the 4-7-8 breathing technique. In this technique, you inhale for 4 counts, hold your breath for 7 and exhale for 8. In this manner, breathing is performed for a few more minutes till you feel a sense of calmness. This can also be performed mid-exam when you feel the pang of anxiety taking over.
  5. Establishing a healthy sleep routine can help you deal with stress effectively and thus reduce the chances of test anxiety.
  6. If nothing works and the anxiety starts getting worse, it is advised to consult a counselor.

With the academic pressure mounting on us during this exam season, it is vital to not only value our physical health, but our mental health as well. Mental well-being can greatly determine your performance; the better it is, the higher the chances of a positive outcome. Unfortunately, at the end of the day, the education system evaluates us based on a few questions which don’t in any way define our true potential. Therefore, to ace these exams/tests, it is essential that you believe in yourself (a part of positive-self talk) and that you don’t neglect yourself while studying endlessly day and night.

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