How to deal with exam stress/anxiety (An insightful guide for students)

deal with exam stress anxiety stress

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Imagine this scenario. You are writing your examination, and you are trying to answer every question, but alas! You have studied the wrong subject! You try to stir up some answers because you know that you will fail for sure if you don’t. You muster up the strength left in you and start writing the exam. But as soon as you write a few answers, the time is up! You can see the examiner approaching your desk, and with the pen slipping from your hands due to excessive sweating, you try to write something in unintelligible handwriting. Sadly, the ruthless examiner snatches your sheet away, and you are left entirely at the mercy of your evaluator.

And then you wake up. 

Feels familiar? 

If yes, then your nightmare that has come to life is called exam anxiety. It is only natural to be a wee bit nervous, but when this itsy bitsy nervousness takes over your functioning and you are enfeebled by it, it is called anxiety. Where being a bit nervous is deemed productive, anxiety, on the other hand, can take away your chance to score up to your full potential.

But do not get disheartened; as hard as it may seem to overcome your fear of examinations, you will be able to win the odds against your performance anxiety with a few tips and tricks.

What is anxiety?

Anxiety is a feeling of uneasiness, mild or severe. It is also considered a condition in which people cannot perform up to their full potential due to intense, excessive fears and symptoms.

People with milder symptoms may deal with this condition with ease as compared to people with severe symptoms.

The ones with severe symptoms may need medications. We recommend you to take the help of a proper doctor if you are facing extreme difficulties. 

Causes of anxiety

Many reasons, like being underprepared, bad prior experience, fear of failure, or the inability to manage time can cause extreme anxiety. 

The most important thing is to find out the cause of one’s anxiety and address it adequately.

Do I have anxiety?

These are some of the symptoms that a person with anxiety may display:

  • Shaky hands and legs
  • Sweating
  • Dry mouth
  • Blanking out on answers
  • Butterflies in the stomach
  • Nausea
  • Fainting
  • Improper sleeping patterns 
  • Improper diet-poor appetite or comfort eating
  • Substance abuse

On the other hand, anxiety can also lead to:

  • Low self-esteem
  • Anger
  • Procrastination
  • Fear of failure to the extent that you do not show up for the exam
  • Increased irritability
  • Concentration difficulties, and many more.

How do I tackle anxiety?

Smile, breathe, and go slowly.” -Thich Nhat Hanh

It may seem like a dream to achieve zen under these conditions, but you have to give yourself a chance to feel the serenity your mind has to offer.

Try these methods, and we promise you will be able to win the odds against your exam anxiety.

Let us now see how to deal with exam stress/anxiety!

Prepare ahead of time

This line may sound cliche, but it is the hard truth. Your knowledge and preparation will give you confidence before and during the examination. The more prepared you are, the less anxious you get.

Start Early

If you find yourselves rushing to complete the syllabus, scrambling for some more time, then you need to be an early bird. Starting your preparation early will not only give you adequate time for revision, but it will also enable you to be thorough with your studies.

So be an early bird and catch the worm!


Revision may seem like a mundane act. It may remind someone of an old author sitting in a dark, musty room, writing an old draft and meaninglessly revising to ruin his perfect piece. 

But revision is a creative act as opposed to the conventional perception. In fact, you need to be more observant while changing and correcting your work. Revising your course will give you confidence in your knowledge, and it will, to some extent, help you overcome your anxiety.

Revising without any help, with an instructor or with peers, all of these methods are helpful. Its usefulness has also been researched thoroughly by experts. So take out some time for revision before your actual examination.

Fix a routine

“The secret of your future is hidden in your daily routine.”-Mike Murdock

It is a truth well-said. With our bustling everyday life, we try to cram up everything in our busy schedule. However, we don’t realize the importance of routine. Fixing a pattern and following it religiously will help you accommodate more tasks and help you perform better in them. You need to make a schedule and study or relax accordingly.

It would be best for our night owls if you made a routine to help you be more active around your actual exam time hours. This way, you will perform better as you are used to being awake—better performance, less anxiousness.

Pay attention to your diet

“Let food be thy medicine; thy medicine shall be thy food.”

When your examinations are around, you immerse yourself in books and often neglect eating healthy or at all. Some of you may compensate by not eating enough or by comfort eating. Either way, it will hinder your body’s natural rhythm and can lead to anxiousness in some people. Therefore eating healthy in the correct amount is necessary to provide your body with sufficient nutrients to work, especially during stressful periods like examinations.

Get some sleep

You can be experiencing disturbed sleeping patterns or insomnia due to stress. And for that, sleeping well is the best cure. 

Adequate rest keeps your heart healthy; it reduces stress and the risks of getting sick, helps your memory, and, in general, helps your body repair itself. 

We can’t stress enough on the importance of having a proper sleep schedule. Adequate rest and a good sleep schedule will help you a long way to manage anxiety.


Meditation is the key to manage anxiety. When meditation is mastered, the mind is unwavering like a candle’s flame in a windless place. You must learn to meditate or learn relaxation techniques to help you get through your anxious phase. 

Meditation paired with exercise will be a powerful move to reduce stress and anxiety.

Final words

Though it is natural to feel nervous, if the same nervousness interferes with your peace of mind, you need to address the core of the problem and take care of yourself.

Exam-related anxiety may seem insurmountable, but with these tips and tricks, you should be able to manage it. We would also recommend taking small breaks and rewarding yourself after the stressful examination to create a positive feedback loop.

If you still feel that anxiety is hindering your ability to perform any task, you should consult a mental health practitioner.

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