When exams approach even the well–prepared students are found grappling with anxiety. Exam anxiety is the feeling of dread or nervousness associated with taking an exam. A mild level of anxiety is considered normal during the preparations and before the assessments. It can even help students get motivated to study and perform well in exams. So, exam anxiety is not an enemy as long as it does not pose serious problems with the students’ ability to perform in exams.
However, high -levels of anxiety can seriously impede students' performance and become a barrier to learning. Symptoms of exam anxiety can show up in various forms and amounts. Students can experience both physical and psychological symptoms such as stress, excessive sweating, feeling faint, loss of appetite, shortness of breath, nausea, headache, fear, self-doubt, hopelessness. In extreme cases, exam anxiety can also turn into panic attacks if it is not managed well.
According to British Psychological Society, anxiety has negative effects on students with poor memory, students who have sharper memory perform better in exams with moderate-levels of anxiety. Exam anxiety is said to impact 10 to 40 percent of all students, according to a study published in 2010. Fortunately, exam anxiety can be managed before it gets detrimental to health. Based on varying severity, a student can seek help from a counselor or a professional if it is becoming un-manageable.
There are various practical ways that can curb mild anxiety.
Ways to Curb Exam Anxiety
- Prepare in advance
Preparing well in advance can save you from last-minute study tension and help you in getting rid of anxiety. Set realistic study goals and break these goals down into smaller chunks for further ease.Make a schedule and incorporate your study goals within that schedule. Staying ahead can help reduce the stress of covering a huge syllabus.
- Plan your Day
Not planning the day, not having a study timetable, sleeping at irregular times, and not eating on time are also the main reasons for anxiety in students these days. Planning your study time in the day can effectively decrease stress and anxiety. Scheduling well-planned breaks can save time and promote mindfulness in between long study sessions. Doing exercise is also a healthy way to curb anxiety. Exercise produces feel-good hormones and keeps the body and mind fit.
- Do not Cram, Understand the Concepts
Let’s be fair. Sitting at a place and studying for long hours can be exhausting and on top of that a big syllabus can be unnerving. Especially during exam time, students resort to cramming to cover all the topics of the subject word-to-word. Cramming the whole syllabus can add to anxiety and even forgetfulness. One practical way to approach this situation is to understand the concepts rather than cram it down.
- Get Yourself a Study Buddy
Collaborate with your friend or study in a group, this can be mutually benefitting and can help you in understanding that you are not alone. Your peers too have exams and seeking help from them, studying together can create a sense of assurance. Practicing mock question papers together and asking each other questions can help in revising the topics.
- Don’t Forget to Take Breaks
Take frequent breaks and try to make this break a productive one. One of the ways to curb anxiety is to sharpen memory. In the break time, reward yourself with a puzzle (which immensely helps in sharpening memory, read more here or go for a 5-minute walk or have your favorite snack.
We understand the jitters associated with the exam preparations and the scenario of kids on the exam day! To help parents not give in to the exam anxiety and understand how to be better parents by helping children to manage their anxiety, we have come up with a webinar on the same.
Preparing for exams and exam anxiety co-exist together. Not managing it only makes it worse. Practical ways of curbing anxiety associated with exams can help reduce or manage it. Preparing in advance, taking breaks, scheduling the day, studying in a group are helpful ways to curb anxiety.