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How to manage exam anxiety

a woman frustrated and stressed lying on the bed

Exam season can be a challenging time, bringing with it a myriad of emotions. One of the most common feelings many of you might experience is exam anxiety. At Educo London, we believe it's crucial not just to understand this anxiety but also to equip you with effective strategies to manage it. In this post, we'll delve into the causes, symptoms, and most importantly, the solutions to how to manage exam anxiety.

What is Exam Anxiety?

Exam anxiety is an excessive fear or worry about exams. It's completely normal to feel a bit nervous before a test, but for some students, this anxiety can become overwhelming, potentially affecting their performance and overall well-being.

Causes of Exam Anxiety

Several factors can contribute to exam anxiety:

1. Fear of Failure: If you perceive your self-worth as being tied to your academic performance, the fear of not doing well can trigger significant anxiety.

2. Lack of Preparation: If you haven't revised adequately or effectively, this can lead to heightened stress levels as the exam approaches.

3. High Expectations: Pressure from parents, teachers, or even yourself to achieve a certain grade can contribute to exam anxiety.

4. Previous Bad Experiences: If you've had negative experiences with exams in the past, such as performing poorly or blanking out, this can cause apprehension about future tests.

Symptoms of Exam Anxiety

Exam anxiety can manifest in various ways, including:

- Physical symptoms like headaches, nausea, rapid heartbeat, or excessive sweating.

- Emotional symptoms like feelings of fear, disappointment, or helplessness.

- Cognitive symptoms like difficulty concentrating, negative thoughts, or blanking out.

- Behavioural symptoms like avoidance, restlessness, or changes in eating or sleeping patterns.

How to manage exam anxiety

Now, let's explore some strategies to help manage exam anxiety:

1. Relaxation Techniques: Methods such as deep breathing, progressive muscle relaxation, or guided imagery can help to calm your nervous system and reduce stress levels.

2. Cognitive Behavioural Strategies: These involve identifying and challenging your negative thoughts about exams and replacing them with more positive, realistic ones. For example, instead of thinking "I'm going to fail", you could say "I've prepared as best as I can and I will do my best".