Managing Exam Anxiety

Here’s a new tongue twister for you – try saying “Exam Anxiety” five times really fast. Can you do it? I sure can’t. Unfortunately, “Exam Anxiety” isn’t just a tongue twister – rather, it is something that affects many students around finals weeks. But don’t worry! If you have exam anxiety, there are a few things you can do to reduce it to ensure that you perform at your best.  

How To Reduce Anxiety While Studying

  • The main way to reduce anxiety is to alleviate uncertainty. Setting SMART goals, implementing an action-plan, and monitoring your progress increases exam preparedness, reduces uncertainty, and therefore can greatly reduce anxiety.
    1. Clearly define your goals so that you know what you are working towards. What do you hope to achieve by the end of exam season? Make sure your goal is SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, & Time-bound). If you need help with goal setting, read this post for more information.
    2. Identify all the tasks (and sub-tasks) you need to complete to reach your goals. Schedule these tasks into your weekly agenda, leaving adequate time for self-care and other commitments - such as a job or time to spend with your family. Clearly define what you plan on achieving each day, and how much time you will allocate towards each task. Furthermore, implement a reward system to help keep you on track.
  • Often times, anxiety is accelerated by negative self-talk. Instead of thinking "I can't do it," "I might fail," or "I can't reach my goals," spend a few minutes a day offering positive remarks to yourself in the mirror. Be creative with what you say and be kind to yourself! I personally use this technique to lift my mood whenever I feel bogged down due to stress and it never fails to help. Some things I say to myself include:
    • You can do it!
    • You're doing a great job persevering! Keep at it kiddo!
    • You can pass this! Just stick to your schedule and you got this!!
  • Another great way to reduce anxiety is to talk to someone you trust - such as a parent or a friend. Encouragement and validation from a third party can help you gain self-confidence and motivate you to persevere. Whenever I lose faith in myself and fall victim to anxiousness, I give my mom or my best friend a call and tell them what's wrong - their pep talks make me happy, increase my self-confidence, and help me relax.
  • Seek help! If you find yourself feeling anxious because you don't know what to do, don't shy away from seeking help. Professors, teaching assistants, classmates, learning strategists – help is just one call/email/appointment away.

How To Reduce Anxiety Right Before The Exam

  • Get enough sleep (7-8h) the night prior to your exam. This ensures your brain is fully functioning, and decreases your chances of "blanking out" during a test.
  • If things feel overwhelming, take 5-7 deep breaths. I know we have all heard this tip a million times but it works, trust me!
  • As mentioned above, say encouraging things to yourself
  • Remember that your grades don't define your worth - just try your best because that is in your control.
  With that said, let me know your favourite anxiety reduction tips in the comments below! Also, don't forget to try the tongue twister (tell your friends to try it as well)!  

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