How To Cure Exam Anxiety

Armed with pens and highlighted notes, you got all you need to ace your next exam!

It’s that time of year again. Everyone gets exam anxiety and you’ve come to the right place to cure it! While many are enjoying the changing seasons, getting ready for winter and the cozy nights in, students worldwide are preparing for the coming exam season. You know, those couple of weeks nearing the end of a semester when days are spent either crying in the library over the fact that you don’t understand what you are studying or crying at home after being kicked out of the library for sobbing too loudly.

For some, any type of exam can be extremely stressful, with anxiety building up in the days before the test date. They could have spent days, weeks even, preparing for every possible question and scenario, but once they’re sat in front of their test, words staring up at them, their mind goes blank. Or their hands can’t stop shaking long enough for their pen to remain steady.

While exam anxiety is normal for all students before walking into their classroom, some experience such high levels of anxiety that they decide to miss the exam completely. Nonetheless, whether you feel high or low levels of exam anxiety, here are some things you can do to ease that nauseous feeling that accompanies you every midterm and final.

Cure Anxiety
Cure Anxiety

Prepare Well

While this step seems like the most obvious activity to do before an exam, for some, the idea of studying can be just as stress-inducing as the upcoming test. Romanticizing sitting in front of a textbook in a busy café or a student-filled library might not be possible for some.

Therefore, it’s important to realize that preparing for an exam will look different for every person. Find a studying method that works for you, and make sure to pace yourself with the workload. Not only will knowing the material help make you feel more confident, but the practice of solving previous question papers can instill a feeling of security as you realize that nothing can surprise you.


Create a Pre-Exam Routine

Another habit that might help calm you down is establishing a routine to follow in the hours before any exam. Create a list of all the comforting activities you enjoy and go through them. For instance, watch a comfort movie or an episode of your favorite television show before bed, go on a walk before heading to your exam venue, or stop by the charming café near your home and grab a cup of tea.

Aside from following this routine, try to also maintain some general good habits before the big day. Give yourself appropriate breaks to rest while studying, get to sleep at a reasonable hour, and limit caffeine intake before your exam. Accordingly, you’ll be well rested and relaxed for whatever comes your way, whether a tough driving instructor or a tricky question.


Figure Out Your in-Exam Game Plan

So, you’ve made it inside the venue now, ready to take your seat and start answering that first question. That is a huge step! But if you want to feel even more prepared, then take a few minutes to plan how you’ll go about the exam. For instance, consider your time limit (if there is one) and think of how much time you would want to give each question.

Other helpful tips to consider are answering the more straightforward questions in the beginning and not wasting extra time on particularly difficult questions, leaving them till the end. Moreover, make sure you focus on one question or task at a time, as this might help you feel less overwhelmed. But most importantly, try your hardest to not get affected by the people around you. Focusing on a person handing in their exam early or watching another visibly freak out about how hard the questions are will do nothing to ease your nerves.


Listen to Your Thoughts

The most prominent voice you are constantly subjected to and can’t outrun is your inner voice. For that reason, take time in the days before your test and truly let your mind wander, focusing on nothing else than that voice. More often than not, you’ll discover how negative it can be, heightening your anxiety rather than calming you down.

While training that voice to become your friend and help you instead of working against you might take some time and practice, something you can do is try and challenge those thoughts. Think about what is the worst that could happen if I get a bad grade.

You could also try journaling. When you put down all those negative thoughts on paper, you’ll be able to dissect them easier and discover where they are truly coming from. Journaling could also help make you feel lighter, as reading your emotions out loud might aid you in realizing that the stakes aren’t as high as you thought them to be.



Having anxiety is never pleasant. However, take a moment to look back and see how far you’ve come, not letting those anxious thoughts control you. Talking your worries out with a teacher, a friend, or a therapist might also help you realize that you are not alone.

Understand that anxiety will look different for every person, and just focus on trying to find out what stress-relief methods work for you. You got this!

Photo: Golden Dayz/Shutterstock


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