How to Stop Feeling Nervous before an Exam?

Written by: Ankita Kathad – MA (Clinical Psychology)
Last updated date : October 10, 2022
Table of Contents
Article title – Low self esteem
  1. Chapter 1
  2. Chapter 2
  3. Chapter 3
  4. Chapter 4
  5. Chapter 5
  6. Chapter 6
  7. Chapter 7
  8. Chapter 8

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Almost all of us feel nervous before an exam. We all experience at least some amount of fear when our exam dates arrive. Some amount of stress is even good for our performance. Stress is a problem when it interferes with our preparation. When we cannot perform well due to stress, it leads to nervousness. In this article, we find out about how to stop feeling nervous before an exam. This article covers tips to stop freaking out about exams.

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Chapter 1:

What Is It like to Feel Nervous before an Exam?

You feel nervous before an exam due to test anxiety. Picture this scenario- You paid attention in all your classes, took detailed notes, and solved all your doubts. Additionally, you also saw several videos to clear your concepts. Yet on the day of your exam, you were feeling blank. Sweat ran down your temples. You felt shaky on your way to school. This is exactly what test anxiety looks like.

Test anxiety is not just related to written exams. You can freak out before any major performance. Even before a sports event, you can feel this type of anxiety. Pressure to excel creates a fear of failure. It is very common to see such fear in children.

Some severe forms of test anxiety can be seen in some cases. For example, a child may complain of stomach aches or fever. They may frequently drink water. They can have this frequent urge to urinate. Other behaviors that can occur due to this kind of fear are binge eating, withdrawal, or fasting.

This type of fear can be seen in grown-ups too. A manager can forget his lines during a presentation. An air hostess can forget her instructions. A dancer can forget his moves.


Chapter 2:

What Are the Reasons foar Test Anxiety?

In order to know how to stop feeling nervous before an exam, it is important to know why we feel nervous. Once we know the reasons, we can understand how to stop freaking out about exams. Many people feel this fear without knowing it. It is very common. This anxiety can be due to several factors. Lack of confidence or preparation. Lack of time management or poor study methods. Some other reasons can be lack of sleep or underlying emotional issues. Let us look at some reasons why one can feel nervous before an exam.

  1. Fear of failure: Sometimes people think that scores in exams define their sense of worth. They may feel that if they fail, everything is over for them. Part of this belief is because of parents’ expectations. Societal standards can also contribute to such thoughts. Society thinks that only those people who score high are talented.
  2. Past trauma: If a child has scored poorly in past, they can have test anxiety. Sometimes a person can have trauma because of a low score. The class teacher may have publicly insulted them. The boss may have insulted an employee for a bad presentation. Many reasons can cause trauma.
  3. Lack of preparation: When there are gaps in preparation, a person can get anxious. Practice gives a person confidence. Being well prepared also raises confidence.

In addition to the above factors certain biological and mental causes also lead to test fear. Let us look at them:

Biological Causes

When we face a challenge, our brain instructs the body to release adrenaline- a thrill hormone. This hormone prepares our body to perform or escape stress. This hormone also helps in a good performance as it alerts our body.

Sometimes, the hormone becomes excessive and it stops a person from concentrating on their tasks. It makes it difficult to focus for some people. It can cause sweating, nausea, and dizziness for some.

Mental Causes

Sometimes, people can have a negative belief about their abilities. For example, some people can feel that no matter how hard they try, they will fail. This creates a cycle of false beliefs. A person who thinks this may perform badly due to low confidence. This will reinforce their earlier beliefs. This is why some people cannot stop feeling nervous before an exam.


Chapter 3:

How to stop feeling nervous before an exam?

Here are some strategies that can help you from feeling nervous before an exam:

  1. Fix your study schedule: Lack of preparation is a common cause of test fear. When you take enough breaks, prepare consistently and take some time out for recreation, your performance improves. Do not cramp up information before the actual exam. Cramping up has proven to have negative results on memory.
  2. Seek help: If you find a concept difficult to remember, take help from others. You may ask a teacher to help you out. You may ask your friends to assist you in learning a concept. If you are preparing for a presentation, you can ask a colleague for assistance. Do not try to manage everything at once. Seek help from others to help you manage everything. This will help you from freaking out before an actual exam.
  3. Try meditation and deep breathing: Practice deep breathing exercises for days before the exam. It helps you calm down and relax. Deep breathing helps you focus on the here and now. It also helps you remain calm whenever anxiety strikes. It keeps you focused on the present moment. During the actual test, if you feel nervous, you can practice deep breathing.
  4. Positive affirmations: Try giving positive messages to yourself daily before the exam. Reduce negative thoughts about failure. Failure is just another lesson in life. People who fail learn the most important lessons in life. Therefore do not be afraid to fail. Mistakes only make you stronger. Give yourself positive messages to feel confident. If you feel down, talk to your teachers or friends. There are many success stories that have arisen from failure.
  5. Change your mindset: It is important to understand that marks don’t define your character. Marks are subjective. Your conceptual clarity is more important.

Chapter 4:

How to Stop Freaking Out about Exams

While there are many measures that can help stop feeling nervous before an exam. Some handy tips that can be used on how to stop freaking about exams:

  1. Make short notes: While you are learning, try to make short notes for big chunks of information. Try marking down keywords and use association techniques. Additionally, these short notes must be precise enough to be read at the last minute.
  2. Healthy diet and sleep: Take a proper diet before the exams. Eating oily food and unhealthy food can lead to nausea and sleepiness. Try to take proper rest before an examination so you can focus well before an exam.
  3. Use shortcuts: Use Mnemonics or shortcuts to remember tough concepts or a difficult list. Try to read the question paper before attempting to answer. Try to answer the easier ones first so that you gain confidence to solve the tough questions.
  4. Seek professional guidance: If you have been scoring low constantly, seek professional help to rule out a learning disability. In some cases, a child can be having some childhood trauma or mental issue due to which they can concentrate. These factors can be identified by a counselor.
  5. Identify your learning style: If you have a specific learning style, you learn best in that style. For instance, some people are visual learners. They learn better with visual material such as documentaries or images. Try to recognize your pattern and learn as per that style. Moreover, you can learn at similar places where you feel best focused. Such as in a garden or in a library. Try to keep a fixed place for learning purposes.

Chapter 5:


Test anxiety is common and found in many people. However, there are many ways in which you can stop feeling nervous before an exam. There are many ways to stop freaking about exams. Some people have a fear of failure because they want to be perfect. Wanting to be perfect is not bad. However, a constant need for perfectionism can lead to fear of failure and anxiety. At Epsychonline, there are courses that focus on perfectionism. This course is helpful for people who fear failure. Apart from that many articles focus on reducing anxiety on the website. Do check them out.  
Reviews 4.1

Learn evidence-based scientific ways to build self-esteem In this six

51 Lessons

12 hours

  • Educational Content
  • Quizzes
  • Self-reflection material
  • Suggestions & feedback
  • Worksheet, tips & tools to use

€9.00 €12.00

25% discount