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Exam nervousness: The plague of students

Dark circles under your eyes, adrenaline pulsing through your bloodstream, too many pens in your box and illegible questions on the paper – we’ve all been there at some point. It seems like adrenaline was invented to put fear to good use, but there are times when fear can cause your downfall. Examinations of all kinds fall into this category.

Fear causes a surge in adrenaline levels, which makes you more paranoid and alert than usual. It could be a good thing if you’re being chased by dogs. But the research paints a different picture. Fear and nervousness do the opposite of damage control – they induce panic and cause your mind to wander off into situations that probably may not even happen.

Exam nervousness happens due to a variety of reasons. Low self-esteem, past failures, poor preparation, and loss of interest in studies due to overly prepared classmates are some of the main culprits.

Although most experts recommend you prepare well for the test, let’s assume for the sake of argument that all your knowledge about the paper stems from your teachers’ death threats. Believe it or not, a calm and composed disposition could go a long way. Panic only leads to erratic thoughts, which eventually lead to mistakes and more panic. It is your primary duty to break free from this cycle.

How to free yourself from exam nervousness

Put yourself into a positive frame of mind by imagining how you would LIKE things to go. Imagine yourself turning up for the exam feeling confident and relaxed – try to picture it in as much detail as possible instead of rehearsing for a part in a play. It can replace negative, anxious thoughts with more positive ones.

Don’t work to the last minute on the night or morning before the exam. Last-minute revision may leave you feeling muddled and anxious.

If this doesn’t work, take your time to reduce your heart rate and calm yourself. Take a deep breath.

If you find yourself feeling overwhelmed by the humongous task of studying and whether you’ll be able to get it all done in time before the exam, I want you to stop. Find a quiet place. Sit up straight. Breathe in and breathe out to the count of five. Keep doing this (as monotonous as it may seem) for 2-3 minutes. Just trust me on this one. It will calm you down, and you’ll be able to think clearer and work more effectively.

Take your time to think and organize your thoughts before writing down your answers. A muddled answer only creates a bad impression on the examiner and may force him/her to cut marks. Attempt all the questions you think you know first. Of course, good handwriting helps.

Hope you don’t commit the same mistake like I did and use rank predictors after the exams (especially the ones for JEE). Trust me; that’s the most tempting, but most useless way to spend your time. They are seldom accurate and only play with your emotions and generate revenue for the website.

In the end, it is up to you to control your emotions and make sensible choices – both in and outside the examination hall, before and after the exam. Prepare with a peaceful mind; take a lot of breaks. Remember to laugh and have fun during your journey. Research has proven that taking some time off to do the things you love, releases good hormones (don’t ask me which ones, I only pretend to know biology for a living), which improve cranial efficiency and boost creativity.

Exam nervousness is often worsened by the sight of invigilators. Here‘s how you can beware of different kinds of exam invigilators and stay sane amidst pressure.

All the best!

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