Tips to Prevent Exam Stress

For some people, even the thought of having to take an exam may cause stress. Some people even experience test anxiety. This may be caused by fear of failure, lack of preparation, or previous negative testing experience. Exam stress can be positive for some people who work better under pressure. However, for some, exam stress can be negative and actually lead to poor test scores. Therefore, it is best for exam stress to be avoided in order to achieve higher test scores.

In order to reduce or prevent exam stress, there are steps you can take to ease your testing experience. Here are some helpful tips:


“If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail!”- Benjamin Franklin. The first step in preventing exam stress is to plan. Whether you are taking an exam for school or your professional career, creating a study plan first is key to succeeding. Creating a study plan can help to prevent procrastination and improve organization. Once the test date is set, develop a list of which material will be covered on the test and make a schedule to study each item on the list. It is important to study one area at a time in order to avoid becoming overwhelmed.

Determine Your Strengths and Weaknesses

It is essential to determine your strengths and weaknesses of your testing material while making your study plan. You can do this by making a table and labeling the columns depending on your confidence level. For example, you can make three columns labeled “know very well,” “know a little,” and “know nothing.” By sorting out your strengths and weaknesses you can save time by focusing on what you know the least first and then reviewing your strengths after you have mastered your weak areas. This will also help to prioritize what you need to study so you become more organized. Organization is fundamental for avoiding exam stress.

Join a Study Group

Studying with another person or group of people can be very helpful in reducing exam stress. I often find that studying with someone else helps to clarify information. Also, if you miss something in the chapter or a class lecture, it is probable that someone else has those notes. You can also quiz each other on study material to build more confidence. Group study sessions can be held in study rooms at your school or local library for a quiet environment. As you develop your study plan, incorporate scheduled group study sessions so that each member of the group can commit to specific times and prevent future chaos.

Do Not Procrastinate

Cramming for an exam can bring about serious stress and can be very overwhelming. You must not procrastinate and leave your studying for the last minute; this will only produce more stress. Being under pressure can lead to feelings of anxiety and may even cause you to lose focus. This can also impact the amount of sleep you are getting before the exam, especially if you try and pull an all-nighter. Lack of sleep prior to your exam can possibly have a negative effect on your test performance. Therefore, you should avoid stress by studying according to your study plan and making sure you get at least 7-8 hours of sleep every night.

Eat Healthy and Exercise

Eating the right foods before your exam and doing at least 20 minutes of physical activity can help to improve focus and keep you relaxed. It is essential to eat well-balanced and nutritious meals on your exam day and while you study in order to fuel your brain. Power foods for your brain include blueberries, salmon, and nuts. Gluten should be avoided because it can cause you to feel sluggish and may even affect your memory. Doing some sort of physical activity prior to your exam can help keep you feel energized and more focused. Light cardio, yoga, or Pilates are all exercises you can do to reduce stress before your exam.

Think Positively

Positive thinking is a powerful tool for your success. Believe in yourself and have the confidence to succeed. Self-doubt can cause serious stress and negative thinking that can cause you to perform poorly on your exam. Therefore, positive thinking is crucial in avoiding exam stress. If you work hard enough and stay focused with positive energy, stress will be highly reduced. You must understand that the amount of effort you put into studying for you exam and your confidence level will play an important role in the outcome of your performance. If you believe in yourself and adequately prepare, you hold the key to success.

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