Whether you are someone waiting to take an exam or perhaps you have friends or family taking exams, these can be very stressful times. Exam anxiety is becoming more of an issue with greater pressure placed upon individuals to succeed and gain the maximum qualifications available. The truth is that a limited degree of anxiety helps to focus the mind and maximise your performance but too much anxiety can decimate preparations and in some cases ruin exam sittings.
Signs of exam anxiety
There are many different signs of stress and anxiety but some of the more common in those looking to take exams include: –
Irritability and a short temper
Stomach upsets and stomach butterflies
Poor appetite and irregular eating habits
A tendency to rely on alcohol or even smoking more than normal
These are obviously some of the more basic signs of potential exam anxiety which can also emerge in other stressful situations. The problem for many people is that even sleepless nights on their own can have a massive impact upon your exam performance and ability to "think straight". This difficulty in concentrating and constant tiredness can make sufferers worry which in itself creates a vicious circle.
What causes exam anxiety?
There are many different causes of exam anxiety and while some are specific to this particular situation others are more general. The truth is that some of us are better at coping with exams and stressful situations than others. It is therefore thankful that the authorities have in many cases brought in coursework as a means of part assessing your abilities in tandem with the end of year exams. Some of the more common causes of exam anxiety include: –
A generally anxious personality
A lack of preparation
Difficult experience of exams in years gone by
Placing too much pressure on yourself
Aiming for perfection when this is not possible
Illness can create stress in itself
These symptoms exam anxiety are just a snapshot of some of the more general reports from sufferers. The truth is that we are all very different and react differently in stressful situations such as exams.
Reducing exam anxiety
As we touched on above, a relatively light degree of anxiety and pressure helps to focus our minds and very often improve our performance. However, the difference between "helpful anxiety" and full-blown exam anxiety is very small and therefore we all need to take action to control this. Some of the more obvious ways in which you can reduce exam anxiety include: –
Prepare, prepare, prepare - this is the main reason for exam anxiety
Ensure you have healthy sleeping patterns ahead of a stressful time
Diet is also very important when looking to reduce stress
Many people find exercise a great way to reduce stress and tension and it is also very healthy for you
Plan ahead for the day of your exam to ensure you have no worries and you are not in a rush
Do not cram revision just hours before the exam - you will make the situation even worse
These are just a number of very simple ways in which you can reduce exam anxiety but one which is often overlooked is the ability to talk to others about your concerns. Very often we place pressure on ourselves with high expectations when others are perhaps more reasonable about what can be achieved. If you have supportive parents they will obviously want the best for you but they will also want to ensure that you are happy and as stress free as possible.
Talk to friends, family and even teachers ahead of your exams because the chances are you are placing far too much pressure on yourself. Plan your revision, maintain a healthy sleeping pattern and do your best on the day of the exam - surely that is all anybody can ask of you?