How to handle Pre-Exam Anxiety

One of the fastest ways to put a damper on any students mood: mention a single, dreaded word: Exams. As many of us can attest to, exams and exam season are a major source of stress to students. Just stroll into a classroom a few minutes before an examination, or a school a few weeks before a major qualifying paper- chances are you’ll see (depending on the type of students) anxious student cramming in whatever last minute revision they can, students rapidly firing last minute questions on whichever topic they can remember to their teacher and (occasionally) students who have given in to panic and have left their fate up to the powers that be.

While some performance anxiety is helpful in spurring you on to achieving your goals, too much of it can have negatively affect your confidence, your grades, and, in the long run, your future (and yes, we’re aware that that last bit may wind up making you more anxious- sorry!). But that changes today- we’re here to give you some simple, but powerful tips that will let you get the better of pre-exam anxiety rather than the other way around!


During the Run Up

1. Eat Well– Eat plenty of healthy and nutritious foods, such as leafy green vegetables, eggs, fish, fresh fruits, etc. You’re putting in a lot of effort to revise, and your brain will need the fuel and energy to make the most of it!

Some examples of brain food you should incorporate into your diet.


2. Have Scheduled Break Days– Yes, we know it may seem counter-productive to take a day off from studying. However, taking an occasional break (say a day off a week) gives your brain some much needed time to relax and recoup from the work its been put through. This then leaves you energised and ready to resume studying.

Give yourself (and your brain) the occasional well-earned break.


3. Avoid Discussing Your Study Habits with Friends– While you may be tempted to see how far along (or how far behind) you are compared to your friends in covering your syllabus- please avoid doing this at all costs. For one thing, you’re not racing to see who can complete the syllabus first. For another, if you’re much further ahead, you might end up overconfident and slacking off, leading to last minute panic. Conversely, if you’re much further behind than your friends/classmates, this could stress you out even more, making it difficult to concentrate on your studies.

Avoid turning things into a competition with your friends/ classmates: Don’t inadvertently psych yourself out!


The Night Before

1. Get Plenty of Rest– It can be tempting to stay up for as long as possible, cramming in any last minute bits of revision you can before you have to leave for the exam. But (and we say this with the best intentions at heart) PLEASE do not do this. By all means, study the night before, but not to the extent that you sacrifice getting a good night’s rest. Not only will this add to your nerves, being too tired to concentrate on the paper can severely compromise your performance on the exam!

Avoid doing this the night before your exam- focus on reviewing your material AND getting enough rest.


2. Relax Your Mind– Easier said than done, we know. But taking a few minutes to relax is better than travelling down a wormhole of panic. It doesn’t have to be a full blown process either- simply taking a few minutes to meditate, watch a funny movie (or even cute animal videos) can do wonders when it comes to helping you relax.

Even taking a few minutes to enjoy a cup of tea/ coffee would help.


3. Be Thoroughly Prepared– And we don’t just mean in terms of studying. Check to make sure that you know when you need to be at the exam hall/ school- double check the date and time if you need to. Pack your pencil case with all the essentials (pens, spare pens, pencils, erasers, rulers, etc.), and lay out your clothes/uniform for the next day (if there’s a dress code, choose something comfortable that adheres to it!). This ensures that you don’t need to rush around in a panic first thing in the morning, and gives you some time to squeeze in some last minute revision.

Preparation is Key!


We know that it may seem easier said that done, and we do know that compiling these tips is probably easier than sitting for an exam. But we hope that these tips offer you some guidance on how to get that pre-exam anxiety under control. Or at the very least, show you that you’re not alone, and we’re all rooting for you.


Hope these tips help, and if you’re a student with upcoming/ ongoing exams, good luck!