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Overcoming Exam Day Anxiety

7 Tips to Calm Your Nerves and Ace Your Test

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By Varsha Ravivenkatesh | 8th April, 2023

Don't let exam-day anxiety get the best of you. With these 7 proven tips, you can overcome your nerves and perform at your best. From transforming negative thoughts to packing away anxious feelings, these strategies will help you feel confident and prepared for any test.

You know that feeling just before a big exam. Being overcome with dread, unable to process thoughts clearly, and sometimes the struggle to swallow the best of foods. Most of all, one keeps pacing their house, caught up in a barrage of the "what-ifs". People reassuring you that a test isn't the end of the world and that you’ve prepared well for the exam doesn't make things any better— those annoying nerves just don't leave. Well, lucky for you, minimizing that occasional test-day anxiety is possible. So, here are some tips to make the exam day jitters go away:

1. Transform The What-ifs

🤯 Try to replace the negative what-ifs with positive what-ifs. It’s nearly impossible to get our minds off of wondering "what if". Nevertheless, we can channel these questions positively. The next time you start sinking in a sea of what-ifs, instead of wondering - "What if I forget everything I just studied?", transform the same question to "What if I ace this test and finish before everyone else?"

2. Find A Relaxing Activity

😇 Find something that takes your mind off things and engages your brain. These could be puzzles like Wordle or Nerdle (Wordle's math counterpart). Maybe it's just something that gives you peace, like knitting or coloring. These activities will assist you in breaking away from those intrusive exam thoughts.

3. Create A Time-Out For Your Anxiety

⏱️ Create some time before the exam when you say no to your anxiety. Give the pressure a little time out and tell yourself that you'll return to those anxious thoughts later. Of course, you don’t actually have to revisit them but, this will help convince your mind to stop overthinking and allow you to truly focus on your test.

4. Listen To Engaging Music

🎶 Everyone knows music is excellent for relieving stress and anxiety. This can have a calming effect on your mind. Music can distract you from your anxiety about tests and engage your brain's working memory, making you test-ready. But remember to listen to music that is slower and calm, not jumpy pop beats - those can worsen your anxiety.

5. Stay Away From People That Give You Anxiety

😖 You know those people who try to scare you before the exams by asking tough questions and continue to fuel your anxiety by telling you that they’re a nervous wreck. They might genuinely be unnerving, but that behavior does not help you in any way. Instead of helping you with the actual test, this will fuel your nervousness. So, remember to stay away from people like these and set boundaries.

6. Pack Away Anxious Thoughts In A Box

📦 Create a little hypothetical box to store all your anxious thoughts, lock it, and throw away the metaphoric key. Store this box in the back of your mind. This can trick your mind into not bringing up those thoughts and will eventually help you concentrate. Additionally, this will help you create a mental block to your angst and ensure that you'll revisit it afterward.

7. Picture How You’ll Feel After Your Exams

🖼️ Look forward to the future and picture how you'll feel after writing the exam. Sticking to it this visualization and, will help keep you from dread rather than guide you toward a sense of contentment.


Remember, at the end of the day, you being anxious will not change the outcome of your exam. How you've prepared is what is going to speak out. Implementing these tips may seem complicated, but once you do, you will feel much better during the exam season. Since all individuals are different, experiment, determine and implement what technique works for you and, you'll be able to overcome your exam-day anxiety.

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