How to not be nervous during exams (Tips)

In this guide, we will discuss “How to not be nervous during exams” and a few tips on how to overcome the exam anxiety. Additionally, we will see why we could feel anxious before an exam and a few things to consider.

How to not be nervous for exam

You may be wondering ‘hot to not be nervous for an exam’ or ‘How to not be nervous during exams’, wellness exams can be quite scary and for some people a high source of anxiety. However, there are ways to mitigate your anxiety and remain calm, here are some recommendations:

  • Be prepared for your exam, study but don’t try to memorize since it is not an effective way to retain information.
  • Get a good night’s sleep the night before. If you are tired, your performance during the exam will not be the same.
  • Eat accordingly before your exam. Have something to eat but don’t exceed yourself.
  • Go to your class or testing site with a few minutes to spare.
  • Have positive self-talk the day before the exam, keeping a positive mindset.
  • Read the instructions carefully and ask if you have questions related to something you don’t quite understand.
  • Try to focus on your exam and what you are doing instead of what other people are doing.

What is exam anxiety?

You are about to go into the room and you feel your heart racing, increased breathing rate and sweaty palms. You sit down and stare at your exam paper, you see how the words fade away slowly. You look confused, you look around and everyone seems so calm and collected, you wonder how this can happen when you are about to have a panic attack. 

It is normal to feel anxious from time to time before a test and you may feel anxious with some exams more than others. When we are nervous we feel like we can’t concentrate or focus on the exam. Even if you have studied for weeks or months, if anxiety kicks in, it can affect your performance on that particular test.

How to not be nervous during exams (Tips)

Why do I feel anxious before an exam? 

There are many reasons why you may feel nervous or anxious before an exam. For instance, if you have been procrastinating and you haven’t prepared for your exam you will lose all your confidence and will feel worried about failing. Moreover, it is also possible that you consider this topic to be extremely hard or you may feel you have had difficulties understanding the topics.

Additionally, if you have taken previous tests in the past that you have failed or you keep failing exams for a specific topic (or topics) then you’ll be more prone to feeling anxious during your next exam. Think about your circumstances and give a deep thought on why you could be feeling anxious when presenting exams. We will now take a look at some tips on how to overcome the exam anxiety.

How to not be nervous during exams and how to not be nervous during oral exam

Be prepared

Being prepared for your exam is going to give you the confidence you need to present your exam. When we are not sure about something we start to hesitate and we feel less confident about answering or giving an opinion about it. Study for your exam and avoid procrastinating because most people say ‘I will study tomorrow’ and tomorrow never comes. Then, the night before your exam you find yourself rushing into memorizing the information so you can take your exam.

We suggest coming up with a strategy to organize your schedule, divide it into topics so you can cover them all but not at the same time and try to make the learning of those topics meaningful (or useful) for you since it would be easier to remember than just memorizing.

Get enough rest

Getting a good night’s sleep the night before your exam is essential. Imagine you go to a party the night before and you stay awake until very early in the morning. If you have slept just 2 or 3 hours, most likely your performance won’t be good since you’ll be too tired and out of focus. Try to go to sleep early between 8 to 9 p.m tops.

However, if you stay up late studying, remember to place an alarm because it is easy to lose track of time and before you notice it will be too late to have a good night’s rest. 

Eat healthily

Besides having a healthy breakfast or lunch, make sure to eat a good food portion and avoid eating too much before your exam. If it is after your breakfast make sure to eat something so your stomach won’t be empty and you won’t be distracted if you are hungry. However, if your exam is just after lunch, eating too much can make you feel sleepy and you will struggle to concentrate. Your brain will be working a lot while you are presenting your exam so having some food will work as fuel, which’ will make thinking easier.

Arrive earlier than expected

If you are arriving earlier with a few minutes to spare you will avoid feeling anxious since you don’t have to rush in or be late for your exam. Pack everything you need the night before or a few hours before your exam. Set an alarm if you need to, so you are reminded of the time you need to leave your house.

Positive self-talk

Keep a positive attitude and mindset. If you have studied and have prepared for your exam, there is nothing you need to fear but it helps when you feel confident and ready to take the exam. Use statements such as ‘I am ready for this exam’ or ‘I have studied so hard I will nail this exam’. Besides, do visualize your success and a good result. 

If you are thinking about a negative outcome and how you are not prepared for your exam you may get negative results and low performance.

Read the instructions carefully

It is common that when we are nervous, we don’t tend to read the instructions carefully and could make mistakes. After the exam, we may be comparing results with friends or other students and we could notice how different our answers were because we didn’t read the instructions or questions carefully. If you don’t know the answer to a question don’t stay there dwelling on it, keep going and then come back when you have finished the rest. 

How to not be nervous during exams (Tips)

Additionally, the examiner may have indicated if the exam was supposed to be Multiple choice, true/false, matching, short answer, essay or oral questions. Depending on the type of question you can adapt your way of thinking and your answers. For instance, if you have an MCQ question, the best thing to do is to read the question and the possible answers. Once you have read them also start to eliminate those that are not in line with the question so you can narrow down your options. Then, select the most appropriate. 

Forget about the world

Focus solely on your exam, it doesn’t matter if the room is full or if there are 100 other students with you. Concentrate in your exam and the questions in your sheet but if you are having an oral exam then concentrate on the question, take a few seconds to think about the answer, take a deep breath and answer your question.

Why is this blog about How to not be nervous during exams important?

As we have discussed, throughout this blog about ‘How to not be nervous during exams’, it is normal to feel a bit nervous from time to time. However, when we let our anxiety take over, our performance and our score will suffer the consequences. Some of the best tips include being prepared but without pretending to memorise everything related to the topic, instead, create meaningful associations to the topics. Additionally, make sure to get enough sleep the night before and eat properly before your exam.

Finally, try to arrive earlier with a few minutes to spare so you don’t have to rush in and visualize your success, tell yourself ‘I can do this’. 

Please feel free to leave any comments or thoughts about the content of this article!

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about How to not be nervous during exams

How can I calm my nerves before a test?

If you would like to calm your nerves before your test, here are some tips:

– Try to engage in breathing exercises a few minutes before your test.

– Do some tension and relaxation to different muscle groups.

– Visualize your success after the test. Image how comfortable and confident you feel with the result.

– Get a good night’s sleep the night before your test.

– You can do some exercises the day before but don’t exceed yourself.

– Write down the thoughts that make you feel anxious and contrast them with reality.

How do I overcome my fear of exams?

If you would like to overcome your fear of exams, here are some tips:

– Stop procrastinating and leaving everything for the last minute. If you are going to study for an important exam the day before then it will make you feel nervous.

– Keep yourself informed about the things that happen in the class.
– If you don’t pay attention or you are not aware that you have an exam the very same day, it is natural to feel anxious.

– Avoid self-criticism. We are very good at beating ourselves up and destroying our confidence so try to change your mindset and be kind with yourself.

How can I calm my nerves before an oral exam?

If you want to calm your nerves before an oral exam, try to prepare for your exam but without memorizing information because your nerves may make you forget everything if you freeze. If you feel too overwhelmed, take a few minutes to take a couple of deep breaths and try again or ask your examiner to ask another question.

Does test anxiety affect scores?

Test anxiety can affect scores. Studies have associated low levels of test anxiety with higher or better scores compared to those with high anxiety levels.

What is exam anxiety?

Exam anxiety can be understood as the physiological over-arousal, tension and somatic symptoms along with intense worrying, feelings of dread and failure before taking a test or exam.

References 

Princetonreviews.com: “10 Ways to Overcome Test Anxiety”

Juanita Agboola

Juanita Agboola is the editor in chief of HFNE and an expert in mental health online. She has been writing about online behavior, mental health and psychology issues since 2012. All Guides are reviewed by our editorial team which constitutes various clinical psychologists, PhD and PsyD colleagues.