Exam anxiety

Exam anxiety can be a lot of things and manifest in many different ways. The anxiety is often your body’s way of signalling that you are handling and interpreting a given situation in an inexpedient way.

Why does exam anxiety occur?

You are a new student

New students can have a difficult time accepting lower grades than what they were used to. If you were one of the best in sixth-form college/high school, you now find yourself as one amongst many talented students. Lower grades are by some students seen as a personal defeat instead of an academic one.

Academic difficulties

There are many reasons to fear an exam; for instance if you are not feeling properly equipped for it.

This might be a result of:

  • Wrong choice of study programme
  • Academic difficulties
  • Lack of motivation

Inexpedient study technique

If your motivation is great, however, and you still find it difficult to acquire knowledge from the reading material, take a look at your study technique and the way you structure your time.

Read here if you want advice on how to optimise your study technique.

Perfectionism and performance anxiety

Many students with exam anxiety suffer from unhealthy perfectionism and thus performance anxiety. This is, however, a rather vicious circle. When you hold yourself to high performance standards in all aspects of your life, it increases the risk of failing and consequently intensifies the feeling of anxiety.

Behind perfectionism you will often find low self-esteem, critical self-evaluations and lack of self-confidence. This is why it is not sufficient to perceive exam anxiety as an isolated entity. You must consider the way in which you regard yourself and others as well.

Grave, personal problems

Grave, personal problems surrounding the time of your exam will naturally have a negative impact on preparations and the exam itself.

These might be problems such as:

  • Demanding issues in your relationship
  • Severe illness
  • Death in your immediate family

Exam anxiety is presumably not present, because you are unable to sit for an exam, but rather caused by the lack of inner peace that is necessary during an exam. It might help you along the way to be properly prepared. Here you have ten advice to ensure the best exam preparation possible.

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