Dealing with Exam Anxiety in College and University
By Steve Douglass
The first sign of a problem while preparing for an exam is worry. Worry robs us of energy, focus and motivation. If we can eliminate worries, or at least control them, then we’re in a much better position to do well on our tests. There are three ways I know to deal with worry.
The first is to delete the causes. What causes you anxiety when you are studying? Too much noise? Then move to a quieter place. Procrastination? Catch up with your studies a couple nights before. That way you can save the final night before the exam to review and get a good night of sleep.
The second way to deal with worry is to displace thoughts. Suppose you wake up at three in the morning and you’re worried about an exam. What do you? How about getting up and studying for an hour? Doing something productive might allow you to sleep better when you finally do go back to bed
Another way to displace negative thoughts is to do something physically active. Work out. Take a quick walk or a nice run. Another idea is to think positive thoughts. For example, I might worry about the exam having surprise questions that I’m not prepared to answer. But I can shove those thoughts aside by reminding myself that I’ve taken many exams and I’ve handled surprise questions before.
The third option is to treat the symptoms. Keep things in perspective. Think of one final exam that causes you the most anxiety. Now think of the worst thing that could happen. If you’ve prepared, then likely the worst grade you could get is a C. And, if you’ve been applying what we’ve been talking about, then you’ll likely do no worse than a B. How bad is that really?
Adapted from Steve Douglass’ How to Get Better Grades and Have more Fun. Adaptation written by WSN Press. Copyright WSN Press, Campus Crusade for Christ, Inc., 1997-2001 Used by permission of WSN Press and Campus Crusade for Christ. All rights reserved. WSN Press, Campus Crusade for Christ–2500, 100 Lake Hart Dr., Orlando, FL 32832 USA