Are you familiar with that? Already days before the exam, a nervous feeling accompanies you in the stomach, the night before you spend sleepless and on the decisive day you are not only tired, but are about to panic attack? Many students suffer from exam anxiety. The fear is there, no matter how well prepared. Often people are under heavy pressure, who set high goals and invest accordingly.
The good thing in advance: fear is an indispensable human feeling and not dangerous. Fear can even drive us to peak performance – for example, when we run away from a hungry bear. Of course it is unpleasant anyway. Here are a few tips for you to get a grip on your exam anxiety.
Fear is one of our most effective protective mechanisms. Imagine being bitten by a dog in the past. Probably you will approach dogs differently in the future. You are not afraid yet, but you are more careful when dealing with dogs. If you have another negative experience with a dog, you will develop a fear of dogs. Why? Quite simply because your brain wants to protect you from dangers. It has saved that the last meeting with a dog ended in pain. Now it warns you immediately if you see a dog releasing stress hormones. Fear is nothing more than an excess of stress hormones in the body.
What does that have to do with test anxiety? Very much. Because with test anxiety runs exactly the same mechanism in your head. Here, the trigger is not a physical thing, like a dog, but it’s your thoughts. Even negative thoughts can be perceived in the human brain as signals of imminent danger. These are, for example, thoughts like: “I have learned too little. I hope I do not fall through. “, Or” If there is a job on the subject of opportunity costs, I’m in the lurch. “In the worst case, you’ve already failed an exam and have had bad experiences.
Fear to a certain extent is completely normal and basically something good. If anxiety reaches an unhealthy level, you should do something about it or resort to the professional help of a psychotherapist if you have a lot of suffering.
your hands are sweaty, your heart is pounding, you need to go to the bathroom urgently, but your knees are soft and you feel like you’re about to fall over? Do not worry, nothing will happen to you! By default, when we suffer from anxiety or especially test anxiety, certain physiological processes in our body that we perceive as certain symptoms proceed. These events are there to prepare us for battle or flight in the face of an impending situation. Accordingly, our system is started up. The heart rate increases, the muscles are better supplied with blood, and vision and hearing become more sensitive.
These physical reactions to anxiety sometimes feel uncomfortable and threatening. You have the feeling that you are no longer in control. The idea of entering the lecture hall right now and writing an exam is inconceivable.
That is not so! Even if it does not feel like it, under fear we can still respond adequately to our environment and also write an exam. Even better: to a certain extent, anxiety even increases our performance!
When we are afraid, we quickly feel unable to do anything. We are afraid of a total blackout. In the process, fear can even drive us to peak performance – provided that it does not go beyond a medium level.
There are very different types of anxiety: you can only feel a slight concern, a slight nervousness to the maximum anxiety, the panic. Panic actually has a negative effect on our performance. That makes sense, too. When we imagine fleeing from the hungry bear again, it is clear that we need the most energy in our legs and not in the memory areas of our brain.
However, the so-called Yerkes-Dodson law, which describes our cognitive performance as a function of our level of activation, shows that a certain amount of emotional tension raises our level of performance. A certain amount of excitement in the run-up to an exam also means that it is important for us to do well. If, on the other hand, we are clearly under-challenged in an examination situation, this leads to a lower level of activation and proportionally worse performance.
Let’s say again: fear is not dangerous. It can even be helpful in exam situations if it is not too strong. Maybe these two thoughts will calm you down a bit.
In addition, there are other effective tips and measures against test anxiety:
Hours of learning will not help if you’re still convinced that you do not know anything. Put emphasis on optimal preparation. Make a learning plan and regularly evaluate your learning status by getting a classmate to ask you or by going through a couple of practice sessions. Get an overview with all learning content. Hake learned content as soon as you got it. Then, just before the exam, doubts and fears reappear, you get the overview out and say to yourself: “I have learned everything that was required. If something comes up that I do not know, I can not change anything. I definitely know enough to get a good score. “
Unfortunately, the more human emotions we have, the more we want to oppress them, the stronger they become. Anyone who has ever been unhappy in love will have that experience behind them. This tip is difficult to implement, because feelings of anxiety are unpleasant. But now you have learned that fear is completely normal and healthy. Just accept it. It will not stop you from successfully completing your exam, and none of your examiners will notice your fear.
Face your fears and fears with positive thoughts. For example, do you all the time think that you can not think of anything in the exam situation? Instead, imagine how you will be happy about a good grade two weeks later.
Tell others about your test anxiety. Express what your specific fears are and what the reasons for your fears are. An objective opposite can give you valuable feedback on whether your fears are realistic or exaggerated. Because we tend to disasters quickly when we are afraid. In addition, a good conversation can free you from pressure and tension.
This tip only helps with long-term practice, not just before the exam. Learn a relaxation method like autogenic training, progressive muscle relaxation or meditation and apply it regularly. Only when you can relax on command in quiet times can you apply the learned method in an anguished situation.