Why Do I Have Test Anxiety and How to Manage It?

Written by: Vasundhara Shukla – M. Phil (Psychology)

Last updated date : March 20, 2023

Feeling extremely stressed or nervous before an exam is tested anxiety. It is common among students. Anxiety is said to be useful for good performance. However, very high anxiety can prevent you from performing your best. You might have read and revised all the material but would still feel you are not prepared enough and can’t seem to remember anything. While everyone experiences some stress before an exam, having test anxiety can reduce learning. Test anxiety is not just an emotional reaction; it has effects on the body too. In this article, we will talk about what test anxiety is and why we get test anxiety.

  • A salesman forgets the information he is going to share with his co-workers and manager during a discussion or presentation.
  • An athlete becomes very anxious before the meet. During the meet, she gets nervous and makes mistakes.
  • A musician becomes very nervous before a show. During the performance, he messes up on several notes and under performs his solo.

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chapter 1 image

Chapter 1:

Symptoms of Test Anxiety

Body Signs: Headache, sweating, shortness of breath, fast heartbeat, and feeling faint. Test anxiety can also cause sudden fear, where you feel that your chest has tightened, and you feel like you have a heart attack.

Emotional Issues: Feelings of stress, fear, helplessness, disappointment, and multiple racing thoughts.

Thoughts-Related Problems: concentration difficulty, negative thoughts, and comparing yourself to others.

chapter 2 image

Chapter 2:

Why Do You Have Test Anxiety?

Fear of Failing: In our competitive world, getting good grades can be necessary for getting into a good college or getting a well-paying job. It can important for one’s self-worth to do well. The fear of failure can affect motivation and morale.

Lack of Preparation: Delaying preparation for exams and tests can put pressure and increase stress.

Experience: Bad experiences get stuck in our memory and can create anxiety when faced with similar situations. Not succeeding in a past test can make you stressed about the next one. Stay in the present moment when preparing for exams, and don’t let the past bring you down.

High Pressure: If you are yearning for a good grade to pass the exam; then it could lead to increasing your test anxiety.

Perfection: Having very high expectations for yourself can push you to do better, but hoping to perfect your work can increase pressure. Students who aim for perfection tend to be very critical of themselves and therefore have highertest anxiety and do worse on exams

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Chapter 3:

Ways of Reducing Test Anxiety

Before the Exam or Test

Be Prepared- It is advisable to start studying and preparing for the exam well in advance so that you can finish the syllabus. Divide your syllabus into smaller chunks and create a schedule to finish well in time for a revision.

Don’t Forget to Take Care of Yourself – care of yourself by eating well, getting enough sleep, getting some exercise,and taking time to relax.

Calm Yourself- If you feel anxious while you are taking the test, take a couple of deep breaths, which will help to reduce test anxiety.

Immediately Before the Exam

Get a good night’s sleep the night before the exam. Sleep can improve your ability to remember and think clearly. This can greatly improve test anxiety. Don’t go to the exam hall empty stomach. Eat a nutritious meal and keep yourself hydrated to perform better. Avoid too much caffeine. If you’ve been consuming too much coffee or tea to stay awake and study or to stay focused, know that it can also hurt your nerves. Listen to your favorite music. Be at the exam hall early so that you get to know where you are sitting to avoid stress at the last minute. Remember that your worth and intelligence do not depend on this one exam. The exam or test is not a do-or-die situation. Your worth is more than your grades, don’t let it affect your mood. Motivate yourself to turn your anxiety into excitement.

During the Exam

Calm Your Body:
  • Breathe deeply from your belly.
  • Progressively tighten and relax muscles as you go upwards from the feet to the neck Stretch your neck and relax your shoulders
  • Close your eyes and count to ten slowly

Sit Comfortably:

  • Sitting up can help you feel more confident and positive while increasing your self-esteem. It makes you less stressed and anxious.
  • A bad posture can reduce people’s thinking process when trying to solve difficult problems and increase negative self-thoughts. This also helps in reducing test anxiety.

Calm Your Emotions and Thoughts:

  • Focus only on the present moment to help you stay at the moment.
Example: “I am sitting at a desk in my exam hall on this bright, sunny morning.”
  • Avoid thoughts about the future or past.
Example: “I need an A to improve my grades”
  • Channel positive thoughts
Example: “I can handle this exam, I have worked hard on this.”
  • Stay focused on completing the test Have realistic expectations of yourself.
  • Be okay with doing well, not perfectly.
  • Focus on your preparation and your efforts rather than focusing on your classmates.
Test anxiety can lead to low self-esteem. Please see our course on “Low self-esteem” to learn more about managing low self-esteem.

"Learnt a lot from this course" Sally

51 sections

6-Weeks Self-Paced

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

$9.00 $12.00

25% discount