What is exam fear and how can you overcome exam fear?

What is exam fear and how can you overcome exam fear_
What is exam fear and how can you overcome exam fear_

There is a lot of fear and stress surrounding the exams. This exam fear begins with the announcement of the date and continues until the end of the exam. Most teachers and parents employ fear as a motivating factor in making us study more. Whenever the date sheet for an exam is released, it feels like we have entered a hard level in the game of life. Everyone, from us to our parents starts getting stressed. Is there a way to overcome exam fear?

While parents want us to study as much as possible, we get busy googling, “Who invented exams?” Even the one who invented exams would have never imagined the stress students go through because of it. The idea behind the invention was excellent. Henry Fischel invented exams to identify and test the general understanding of students and their ability to apply the information they have studied. But, the exams in today’s world are turning us into rote learning machines. We study only to pass our exams, and once the semester exam/ end term exam is over, it all goes in the trash bin of our brain.

Exams and family

Why does everyone in our family suddenly turn into a strict military general during exams? After all, does one single paper really matter so much? If we dig deeper, all this happens because most of our parents always compare us to others. They constantly keep telling us that Sharma ji ka ladka scored 101 out of 100. “Does he have horns on his head?” is a dialogue most of us might have heard.

While parents are concerned about their social position, children are concerned about seeing their parents go through this period. Although too much pressure is harmful, a little amount of pressure may be beneficial if it inspires us to put in the necessary effort. Exams have the potential to cause our stress alarms to malfunction. Exam fear can even prevent a lot of us from performing to our full potential. Thus, it is very important to address the issue and get our stress levels under control.

What causes exam fear?

Expectations of friends and family are the most common cause of exam fear. However, the stress of failing an exam is also one of the most common reasons for exam stress. Other factors can include:

The fear of failing

It is possible to suffer from extreme exam anxiety if you link your self-worth to your exam results, which is a common occurrence. Don’t judge your worth because of exams. The actual knowledge of students is not tested by exams these days. It basically tests how much a student can remember. Maybe you are not interested in studying a particular subject but are doing well in another subject you like. Hence, never link your self-worth with the results of your exam. 

Poor record of previous exams

If you have previously performed badly in your exams, whether it was due to a lack of preparation or because you were so anxious that you couldn’t recall the answers, this might lead to increased anxiety and a negative attitude every time you are required to take another test. 

Less preparation

If you did not study or did not study well enough for an upcoming exam, this might worsen your feelings of anxiousness. You might see your classmates revising a topic you haven’t even heard of, and hence the feeling of anxiousness will worsen.


It is more probable that you may experience anxiety before and during a test if you think that you will do badly on the exam. Due to this, test anxiety may become a vicious cycle. After having anxiety during one test, you may get so worried about it occurring again that you feel even more anxious for the next exam. And, if this keeps happening constantly, a lot of us start believing that we have no power over the situation. 

Also Read: 12 Ways to Improve Math Skills

How do I know if I have exam fear?

Anxiety about exams may arise in a variety of ways, ranging from minor to severe. Some students feel minor signs of test anxiety and may still be able to do well in their exams. While others are nearly petrified by their worry, resulting in poor performance in exams and even panic attacks before and during examinations. 

Sweating, shivering, fast heartbeat, dried mouth, dizziness, and vomiting are all physical symptoms of test anxiety. Exam fear can even lead to skipping classes or, in the worst cases, dropping out of school. 

Memory issues, trouble focusing, and negative self-talk are among the other symptoms that might occur as a result of exam fear. Depression, poor self-esteem, aggression, and feelings of hopelessness are also some of the emotional symptoms of exam anxiety. 

How to overcome exam fear?

Exam fear is common among students of all ages. Some of us are capable of dealing with test anxiety and stress in a successful manner. But some surrender to the anxiety of exams. Because of exam fear, some perform poorly in examinations or even resort to extreme measures.

The fear that students experience before an exam is mostly greater than the stress, they experience during the exams themselves. This may be intensified even more if they have older siblings or sisters who have previously done well in their exams and feel they must live up to their expectations.

Although the term “test anxiety” seems limited to a school or an educational institute, there are other instances too where people become extremely anxious about their performance.

A basketball player can get very stressed the night before a huge game. During the game, he/ she becomes so overwhelmed by the anxiety that she begins to miss even the most straightforward shots. During a work presentation, a businessman can freeze and forget the information he is about to present to his co-workers.

1. Make a study plan

It is important for us to realize that everyone has a different pace of understanding and learning new things. Many of us are often compared on the basis of our learning capabilities to our classmates, cousins, or even siblings. 

Keeping your potential in view, overcome exam fear by taking note of the hours you feel motivated to study. Begin with easy subjects and a short span of time and as you progress in your preparations, pick up difficult subjects and dedicate long hours with short breaks in between to your studies. 

2. Start studying from the beginning

Don’t delay your preparation till the date sheet is released. As soon as your classes begin, take an hour or two from your day to revise what you studied during the day. Make short notes and keep a separate notebook for important formulas or expected questions. 

This way, when exams are near, you don’t have to be worried about wasting time taking notes. You can begin by going through your notes and highlighting the most important points.

3. Will getting enough rest help me overcome exam fear?

Many of us study till the crack of dawn before an exam. The levels of the stress hormone, cortisol, rise when you’re fatigued. Lack of sleep puts our bodies under stress.

While we sleep, our brains are busy processing the information from the day’s studies. Your ability to concentrate well during exams will be greatly enhanced if you can get enough rest. Getting adequate sleep also contributes to your ability to remain energetic and cheerful.

Weakness and tension are a result of a lack of enough rest, and this results in exam fear. Lack of rest will have a negative influence on your planning strategy. To avoid this, make sure that both your body and mind are receiving enough sleep.

4. Eat healthily

It is also quite important to eat healthfully, particularly during exams. Although it may be tempting to eat fast food or junk food so that you continue studying without a break, doing so will almost always leave you feeling bloated, heavy, and exhausted.

This happens because junk food or fast food doesn’t have enough nutritional value. In fact, most of them have zero nutrition as they are not made to fuel your brain but only make you feel tired and heavy.

Try to eat smaller meals throughout the day that are rich in whole grains and fruits, foods rich in healthy fats, veggies, and proteins so that you always have energy and never feel hungry.

5. Overcome exam fear by not comparing yourself with others

Many of us have the habit of calling our friends and talking about how each of us is getting along with our preparations. While this might seem to be harmless, this practice has the potential to cause worry and anxiety.

When we hear how well our friends have prepared, many of us get anxious. Concentrate on your preparation in order to prevent this anxiousness. What’s the point of caring about their level of preparation when you have so much to learn?

6. Think positive

It is important to have a good attitude during the exam preparation process. Believe in your ability to do well in the test. Positive thoughts can help to keep negativity and stress at bay. Don’t allow people to sap your motivation.

Maintaining a positive attitude is not something that can be accomplished in a single day. Promoting optimism in one’s life needs a lot of emotional and mental effort. If you adopt good habits and choose hobbies that interest you, you can achieve a positive mindset. Good habits simply refer to anything that is actually beneficial to you. Whatever it is that keeps you cheerful and attentive throughout the day might be sports, cooking, reading, or any practice.

7. Don’t put too much pressure on yourself

We might feel overwhelmed by the amount of work involved in the preparation process before an exam. The thought of the syllabus overloads our mind. We get into this situation when we are unable to organize our preparation in an appropriate manner.

Please don’t give in to the pressure of the circumstance; instead, take meaningful steps to improve it. We may begin to overthink even over a simple problem, which may lead to anxiousness. As an alternative, take a few minutes to unwind and then go back to the preparation. 

8. Perfectionism is an illusion

You may have been a perfectionist before joining a higher class or college, and you may have gone into exams believing that you had covered all you needed to know. Trying to let go of perfectionism may be emotionally stressful, but it is necessary to do so. Given the fact that it is hard for some of us to grasp every detail, we must concentrate on the most important topics which not only let us succeed in our exams but will be useful in the future too.

9. Consult a psychologist

Please do not hesitate to seek the help of an experienced psychologist or therapist if your anxiety becomes unmanageable and you are not able to overcome exam fear on your own. CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy) aids in the modification of your mind process and negative thoughts. Exam anxiety is very manageable, and you are not alone in feeling anxious. Many of us study a lot and totally blackout on exam day. So many throw up while writing an exam or even refuse to appear in the exam. Remember that you are greater than your fears, and you can do it!

10. A personal tip

On exam day, try not to stay close to people who are asking others how much they have prepared; this can cause increased anxiousness. Just believe in your preparation, revise your notes and concentrate on that only. 

Conclusion- How to Overcome Exam fear 

It is important to remember that passing an exam is not even half of the process of achieving what you want in life. Always remember that there is always a second opportunity or another approach to achieve what you want in life. 

Consider the nature of your fears and come up with a solution to the fear you are experiencing. Although it is safe to say that a tiny level of stress during tests is kind of necessary to keep you motivated to study and do well, excess of everything is indeed bad. When stress reaches an excessive level, one must deal with it immediately.