- Causes of Examination phobia
- Consequences of fear of exams
- Tips to reduce fear before examinations
- Tips to overcome fear during exams
- Methods teachers and faculty can follow to help students over fear of exams.
Sweaty palms, dizziness, fear, stomach pain, rapid heartbeat and anxiety- are these some of the symptoms you experience just before your exams?
Well, it means you suffer from examination phobia or test anxiety. Do not worry, you are not alone. A research article published in ResearchGate – A survey of examination Phobia amongst students at secondary school level suggested that more than 50% of students suffer from examination phobia.
Do not be under the misconception that this fear before exams is experienced by students who do not prepare well. Examination phobia can even be experienced by students who have prepared well and studied for the examination.
Examination phobia has different effects on different parts of the body. It has physical as well as mental consequences.
Fear of examinations can manifest in different ways like tension, fear of failure, nervousness and depression. Physically, examination phobia can result in palpitations, increased blood pressure, and sweating.
The reasons for this fear of exams could be many. Here are a few reasons students suffer from examination phobia
- Peer pressure
- Parental pressure
- Poor diet
- Lack of proper sleep or rest
- Improper preparation for examination
These are just some of the reasons that result in fear of exams. Some students have immense pressure to perform well in examinations.
Especially if an elder sibling or member of the family has performed exceptionally well previously, the pressure mounts up.
Stress just before examinations can lead to catastrophic results. Poor grades or even blackouts are not uncommon for students suffering from examination phobia.
When you are stressed the body experiences a number of adverse effects. Here are some of the adverse consequences of stress in your body
Hormones – The body releases unwanted hormones while you are stressed
Muscles – Muscles in the body tend to stiffen or tighten
Rapid Heart Beat – Stress can increase breathing level and result in rapid heart rate.
Blood Pressure – An increase in stress can cause blood vessels to dilate and result in an increase in blood pressure.
So, the question that arises now is how to overcome exam fear? And reduce this stress during examination.
There are many tried and tested methods of how to get rid of exam fear. Broadly, we can divide this into two categories-
- Tips to follow before examinations
- Tips to follow during the examinations
Here Is a Short List of Tips to Follow Before Examinations
1. Prepare Well Beforehand
One of the best ways of how to overcome examination fear is to prepare well in advance for the examination. Never leave anything to the last minute or chance.
When you are prepared well, you have nothing to fear. You are prepared for any question that may appear for the examination and hence you can eliminate the fear.
Being prepared well in advance gives you a lot of time to revise and recall. As the examination date gets closer, you will find that you have covered all the portions and even have time to do a second or third revision.
While studying, make sure you draft a timetable and follow it to the tee. Mix your subjects well in order to avoid monotony and boredom while studying a subject.
Just as studying is important, having a good sleep is equally important. Sleep and stress are directly proportional. Good sleep can reduce stress levels to a large extent.
Sleep helps to convert what you have learnt into a more permanent form. Therefore sleeping well can result in great examination performance and good grades.
3. Eat Well
Believe it or not, eating right is one of the best ways of how to deal with exam phobia. In fact studies have shown certain foods that help to reduce levels of anxiety and stress.
An article published by the Cleveland Clinic website has suggested a list of food items that can help to reduce stress.
The article goes on to state that hormone cortisol or stress hormone must be regulated in order to maintain optimum stress levels in the body. Cortisol helps to
- Regulate sleep
- Reduces inflammation
- Increases blood sugar levels
- Regulates metabolism
- Controls blood pressure.
Cortisol, in the body, can be regulated by eating the right kind of foods. Food rich in magnesium, omega 3 acid fatty acids, protein rich food contribute to keep the cortisol at an optimum level.
Meditation is one of the foremost tried and tested methods to reduce examination phobia and stress. It has been scientifically proven that meditation reduces stress level and increases calm within the body.
An article published in by Micheal Borgers has stated that meditation reduces fear and anxiety which is a serious problem for test takers.
Students that participated in a two-week mindfulness training (meditation program) were able to reduce the amount of time their thoughts were drifting away.
They were able to improve their working memory capacity and as a result, achieve a much better test score compared to the group that did not have guided meditation training.
The same article goes on to mention the various areas in which meditation can help during exam preparation
- Works anywhere
- Reduces anxiety
- Improves sleep quality
- Increases self awareness
- Reduces stress
- Reduces number of revisions
5. Stay Clear of Chatting with Friends Before the Examinations
While preparing for examinations, it is best to not compare yourself with your friends or peers.
While at times, friends can be encouraging and motivating, at other times you may just get tensed when you compare your level of study with theirs.
Not being on the same level of study as your friends could lead to unnecessary anxiety and stress before the examinations.
6. Be Positive
It is very necessary to have a positive attitude while studying for your examinations. If you believe you can do it, you definitely will.
A positive attitude is half the battle won. Being positive is one of the best ways of how to overcome exam fear.
Tips to Follow During the Examinations
1. Start Your Day Early
One of the best ways to overcome fear of exams is to start your day well in advance. Do not rush in the morning. Perform your daily activities with ease.
This is possible only if you start your daily activities like washing up, eating breakfast and travelling to college well in time. Rushing up in the last minute can add to your stress levels.
2. Take Time to Read the Question Paper
While attempting a question paper, remember to read the question paper well before starting out to attempt it. When you read the question paper you get an idea of what type of questions have been asked.
This gives you an immediate time concept and you can already plan the timing for each answer beforehand.
3. Answer the Best Ones First
Examination centres allow you to answer any questions first as long as you write the right question number next to the answer.
It is advisable to attempt the questions best known to you before you answer tougher ones. This way, you know for sure that you have got the right answers and can be rest assured of the good grades. Keep the tough ones for the last.
4. Don’t Look Around During an Examination
Looking around the examination hall can increase fear of examinations. The atmosphere in the examination hall itself can look quite scary to students.
Desks placed far away, roll numbers allocated for the desks and a quiet atmosphere can add to the pressure of the examination.
Try not to look at the settings and try not to notice your classmates writing their examinations. Looking at your friends and classmates writing their examinations may add to the fear of writing your own examination.
Apart from the above tips to overcome examination fear, the schools or universities can provide certain help to students to overcome examination phobia
You May Also Like Cheating in Examinations. Why Do Some Students Do It?
Here Are Some Methods to Reduce Student’s Fear of Exams.
- Teachers can ensure that a number of class revision tests and preparatory examinations are conducted during the academic year. With so many revisions and tests, the students are well prepared for the final examination.
- Universities can change the annual examination system to semester system to reduce the portions for examinations.
- Examination question paper patterns can be changed to include multiple choice questions, short answers and long answers. This way the student is exposed to different types of questioning.
From the above, it is evident that examination phobia is a real thing. It is important to note, that if you suffer from severe examination phobia and can not help yourself through the above methods, you must not hesitate to visit a psychologist or a medical specialist.
Seeking professional help in this regard can go a long way in helping you overcome your fear of examinations. This examination stress is treatable and can be easily tamed.
Though it is safe to say that a small amount of stress during examinations is necessary to get you motivated to study and perform well. Stress going the extreme way is when it has to be tamed.