This page contains relevant information and resources for students who are concerned about exam Anxiety. Nobody really likes exams. Everybody gets anxious about them, some students more than others. The fact that you feel anxious does NOT mean you will fail or do poorly. Here are some practical tips to do as well as you can on exams.
Plan your attack on each exam.Do not get into a negative mind-set. Divide the time between the start of semester into three periods: Beginning of semester to about three weeks before the exam; About three weeks out till the evening before the exam; and The exam day.
From the beginning of semester: The best antidote to exam anxiety is to go into the exam feeling confident that you have covered the material. Most exam anxiety comes from not being confident that you have studied effectively. Go to the Time Management resources, download these and use them so by the time you approach the exam you know you have been studying reasonably effectively during semester.
About three weeks out from the exam, focus more on the specifics of the exam. Find out all you can about the exam, especially the day, date, time, and location!!! Also, what, if any, resources can you take into the exam (calculators, dictionaries, etc.). Locate previous exam papers if these exist. Many textbooks have review questions and quizzes.
Map-out on paper the most important aspects of the course. What is it that you will be examined on? Draw up a plan of revision that will get you through the course material a day or so before the exam. Work through this actively, testing yourself using old exam papers or course material quizzes.
Study the night before. Spend time on those topics you feel you need to review. Do not go to bed too much later than normal time.
The day of the exam: Allow plenty of time to get to the location of the exam without stressing. Take into account possible transport delays, parking problems. Avoid fellow students who are likely to get you stressed and extra anxious.
When the paper is distributed, read the instructions carefully. If there are choices, decide quickly and make sure your choices match the exam instructions. Allocate your time according to the number of questions and the marks. Begin with the questions that you are most confident about and try not to go over the time allocated for each question. Remember: you cannot get marks for blank paper - so you want to make an attempt to answer each question.
If you feel yourself becoming unduly anxious: Take a brief “time out”, focus on your breathing - breathe slowly and evenly, think positive thoughts, like “I have covered the material, I will be OK”, “If I am finding this tricky, so is everyone else and they can’t fail us all!"
If you are left with a tricky essay question, there are some things you can try. Try putting what you think it is about into your own words. Break the question up into parts.