Exams are round the corner...
Almost everyone feels nervous before an exam. Butterflies in the stomach and worrying thoughts - 'Will I be able to answer the questions?' 'Have I done enough revision?' - are indications of exam nerves that are probably familiar to all students. In fact, a certain amount of nervous tension probably helps us perform to the best of our ability, producing a rush of adrenaline that helps us to feel alert and focused.
But too much anxiety can BLOCK thoughts, create a negative frame of mind, and lead to panic and potentially poor exam performance.There are a number of things you can do to help manage exam anxiety and turn uncomfortable, panicky thoughts into more creative tension

What does test anxiety feel like?
Some students experience mainly physical symptoms, such as headaches, nausea, faintness, feeling too hot or too cold, etc.Others experience more emotional symptoms, such as crying easily, feeling irritable, or getting frustrated quickly.A major problem of test anxiety can be its effect on thinking ability; it can cause a person to blank out or have racing thoughts that are difficult to control.Western students are strongly encouraged to seek assistance in the Student Development Centre if you experience interfering levels of anxiety prior to and/or during tests and exams; if you are not a Western student, speak with a counsellor or physician about support services.
What can you do to control test anxiety?
Be well prepared for the test.Include as much self-testing in your review as possible.Maintain a healthy lifestyle:get enough sleep, good nutrition, exercise, some personal "down" time, and a reasonable amount of social interaction.As you anticipate the exam, think positively, e.g., "I can do OK on this exam. I've studied and I know my stuff."Engage in "thought stopping" if you find that you are worrying a lot, comparing yourself to your peers, or thinking about what others may say about your performance on this exam.Before you go to bed on the night before the exam, organize anything that you will need for the exam -- pen, pencil, ruler, eraser, calculator, etc. Double check the time of the exam and the location.Set the alarm clock and then get a good night's sleep before the exam.Get to the exam on time - not too late but not too early.Be cautious about talking to other students about the exam material just before going into the exam, especially if this will make you more anxious.Sit in a location in the exam room where you will be distracted as little as possible.As the papers are distributed, calm yourself by taking some slow deep breaths.Make sure to carefully read any instructions on the exam.As you work on the exam, focus only on the exam, not on what other students are doing or on thinking about past exams or future goals.If you feel very anxious in the exam, take a few minutes to calm yourself. Stretch your arms and legs and then relax them again. Do this a couple of times. Take a few slow deep breaths. Do some positive internal self-talk; say to yourself, "I will be OK, I can do this." Then direct your focus on the test; associate questions to their corresponding lecture and/or chapter.If the exam is more difficult than you anticipated, try to focus and just do your best. It might be enough to get you through with a reasonable grade!When the exam is over, treat yourself. If you don't have any other commitments, maybe you can take the night off. If you have to study for other exams you may have to postpone a larger break, but a brief break may be the "pick up" that you need.



  1. Elena de los Cobos4/20/10, 10:08 PM

    Hello everybody: My problem in the exams is that sometimes, I don´t write the answer where I want to but in another one, up or down. That happened to me on the language test in the Acceso para mayores de 25 and I had 5.5 when I could have had about 7. Thank God this year I have revised once and again and I´ve had good marks so long.

  2. That's a very good solution to your problem! The best to keep on going is to do that: mend our little mistakes! Congratulations, Elena.

  3. What happen to me is that several weeks before the exam I only achieve study eating something, it is like whether I was hungry at all hours of the day. This happen to me specially with language subject when I have to prepare development questions. I try to eat fruit but from time to time I eat another food that I know that it is not so healthy.

    Cristina González

  4. I think I have all the symptoms:
    I have stomach-ache, I feel irritable (poor my family), I can’t sleep, and If I can I only have bad dreams.
    In addition, I think I do all the things in a wrong way; I should sleep more, eat better (the same as you, Cristina), and make some exercise just to be more relaxed.

    My problem is that I am very nervous and when I have to do an exam I get nervous and I can’t think good until I am calm.

    Silvia Useros

  5. Well, it's time, then, for Cristina and Silvia to try camomille, lime or any other relaxing tea to help exam anxiety...

  6. I recomand you all swimming.At least before the exams when you have to study hard.Using the respiration in the water is a natural way to relax.Everything starts with the brething.And yoga and long walks also help.Personally I have a lime tea before the exam.And it works.
    Also we have to think something like: "if I pass, good.If I don`t, good as well".

    Be positive my friend!

    Valentina Ionescu

  7. Carmen Escolar Langa5/17/10, 6:26 PM

    Experience has proved to me that one of the best things not be too nervous is to have really well prepared the exam, practice and practice, and test yourself serveral times.
    Most of the nervousness arises from our insecurities and our fear to fail. If you are self confident and study hard you may make some mistakes, but finally pass.

    Good luck to everyone.

  8. I agree with you, Carmen, that the best recipe is to study hard and go to the exam as much prepared as possible. However, nervous can betraye you and make you doubt things that you wouldn't doubt in other circumstances. Anyway, as long as you don't get so nervous that it makes you go blank, if you are well prepared you will get a good mark.
    Good luck to everybody!

  9. Irene Espósito6/12/10, 2:33 PM

    I think it makes all the difference if you are taking exams on a subject you love. I can say I truly enjoyed my two Literature ones, in fact they were like an extension of all those hours spent practising verse analysis, reading poetry and so on, previous to the exam itself. So that was not stressful. However, not all subjects are favourites, and like the rest of us, I do go through the "cold sweat phase" sometinmes, especially before entering the room and finding myself already working on it. In a way it's a matter of finding enough motivation and a little aid of your choice, be it lime tea, meditation or any other help. Whatever gets you through the situation, as long as you realise you are mostly proving something to yourself in the first place.