Tips for Exam Nerves

Exam nerves are really common. For some people it is for every test whilst for others they preform ok during their mocks and then can't hold it together during the exams proper. I have a had a long career teaching people to study and how to use their own skills, psychology and physiology to maximise their potential to get the results that they are capable of. This page will include many of those tools to help you manage any perfomance anxiety, make better use of your revision time and reduce any exam nerves on the day.

Preparation to reduce any exam nerves and anxiety on the day.


Before the test manage your exam nerves by:

1: Learn anxiety reduction and management skills and practise them ahead of the day:

By learning anxiety management skills and practising them ahead of the exam then you will have a lower level of anxiety and also be less likely to experience exam nerves on the day as you will be able to automatically manage them.

  • Take a walk or exercise to burn off anxiety:
  • Listen to relaxing music:
  • Use distractions like computer games or reading to take your mind away from worrying:
  • Plan a nice thing after the event to focus on this if you find you keep worrying about the exam before it comes up:


2: Use hypnosis and self hypnosis to learn and practise your test and to manage your anxiety and practise feeling confident.

Hypnosis is very effective at speeding up tips 1 and 2 and I use it for all treatments not only exam nerves but also addictions, anxiety, self harm, and any compulsive behaviour because it is so effective. Hypnosis is also great for helping to study more effectively, recall information and be more disciplined and motivated around studying.

3: Use visualisations of you doing each question in the exam.

Visualise from the very start, where you are sitting down, writing your name on the paper, answering the questions, taking a sip of water, taking time to think about and plan your answers to the end of the test when you paper is handed in or collected.

By visualising any task from start to end this helps to make the act more natural and reduce the opportunity for any test nerves to occur. As you visualise the exam it will also help you maintain your revision. Hypnosis will teach to do this easily.

 4: Plan your revision:

Revise early and effectively. Practise each thing until it feel natural.

The more you practise any task the more you can do it without thinking and the more you do it without thinking the less space there is for test nerves to develop. 

By planning your revision around your needs it will make a more effective learner and as you become more confident with your revision it will reduce any performance anxiety on exam day.

This may seem one of the most basic ways to feel better on exam day but is often neglected.

When you revise find the best way for you. Consider the time to study, how long to study, how to assess how much you have learned through that process and then to reward yourself for each section that you learn.

Unique revision needs? Are you a morning person, do you like to write and repeat or would it be easier if you were asked questions and by answering and explaining the answers would that help you cement your learning? Many Science type topics may involve practise not only learning formula but also practise using them.

Assess your progress: By the end of each block of revision it would be useful to be able answer a key question instead of saying I have spent two hours or I can demonstrate I can use that formula.

4: Plan a reward:

Plan a nice thing just after the exams or the test so that if you find yourself focusing on the exam and it gives you unhelpful feelings, then you can instead focus beyond that and be aware that a few hours later you will be doing something that gives you good feelings. You can sooth yourself by saying "No matter what happens that day i will be sat doing (this nice thing) at (time), with (who you will do it with).

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6:

The night before the exam or the test:

Get good yourself in a state of relaxation so that you can get quality rest and be ready and a postive frame of mind by the morning by:

1: Prepare for the Exam or test:

Plan everything that you need, including resources, pens or specialist equipment. Check times and venue of the exam centre and make a list to tick off in the morning so you feel completely ready.

2: Relax:

Spend time with friends so as to stay calm and be slightly distracted away from the exam. IF alone get a bath or anything that helps you relax.

3: Getting quality sleep:

Follow this link here to find our how to establish good sleep hygiene.

The morning of the exam and before entering the exam hall or test centre:

It's normal the wake with anxiety. It is not only normal to have exam nerves but also very useful as these feelings are there to help you feel alert and perform at your best. When you are over alert and too aroused then you are less able to focus on what you are doing and end up incapacitated. So it is vital that if you are too anxious as you wake you are able to manage this feeling so that you are operating at the best level for you.


1: Thank your anxiety:

Calm your self by acknowledging the anxiety and feeling thankful that it is here and helping you to perform at your best and that you are now going to manage it to the level that will help you the most.

2: Do a muscle relaxation:

This will help you to remove the physical effects of anxiety and also refresh you so you will be more focused during the day.

3: Listen to some relaxing music:

This will help relax your mind and you can keep listening to this right up until you enter the exam hall timing exam nerves.

4: Walk off any anxiety:

If you are able to walk in a natural setting such as a park or woodland or near water before the exam, this will help calm and focus you more.

5: Adopt an upright posture:

Adopting an upright posture, as you start your day and on the way to the exam hall will help you feel confident and calm.

6: Do a breathing exercise:

Adopt a soothing breathing exercise for example slow down your breathing and focus on making your out breath taking longer than your in breath. Or focus on making your abdomen go in and out as far as you can with each in and out breath. 

7: Have a light meal:

Eating a light meal before you leave will give you the energy your body needs to fucntion, after all your brain consumes 22% of your body's energy, so it needs fuel for peak performance. A light meal will energise whilst not making you sluggish.

8: Plan your arrival time:

Reduce anxiety by planning to arrive in a manner that is just right for you. You may want to be early and check venues seating plans etc or want to arrive so that you are not in a big group. If you prefer not to be rushed arrice early, ge the information you need then take a walk. To much hanging around raises anxiety levels in some people.

9: Use distraction techniques:

If you are kept waiting before your exam, then anxiety levels can often rise due to the unplanned delays. By planning distraction techniques including chattting, playing music, a muscle relaxation, a computer game on your phone or a bit of extra revision.

10: Positive self talk:

By using positive self talk you can enhance your mood and diminish any unhelpful emotions and restore a calm, confinement manner. You can tell yourself "Iam feeling calm, I am feeling relaxed, I am doing my best and will express myself will in this task".

You can also talk to others with positive self talk too. "I am nervous and that is healthy" or "I am prepared and looking forwards to seeing how I get on."

10: Adopt an open posture:

By adopting a body posture that is open, research has shown that just doing this makes a huge impact on how you feel. Adopting an open posture makes people feel powerful, capable, confident and in control, but also how they perform, as people perform better in any challenging tasks like exams and interviews. So take back control of exam nerves by learning and using these techniques as well as using hypnosis to feel the way you want and perform to the best of your ability, today and for tasks which await you in your life.

Managing exam nerves during the exam:

During the exam you may find that you need to manage your exam nerves. Here are some tips to hale you stay in control throughout the exam.

1: Plan and prioritise:

Slowly use the time for the reading of the paper and plan what questions ou will answer and in what order.

If you still feel tense then you can use the following tools reduce that tension and keep focussed.

2: Muscle relaxation:

Even at the your desk or workstation you can do a subtle and effective muscle relaxation. You can do this whilst you are reading and planning your tasks so it does not have to eat into your time. By doing a muscle relaxation whilst you read or plan your answers you will both sooth and become more focussed at the same time.

3: Pain:

If you feel panicky during the test then by clenching your fist or digging your nails into your flesh until you experience a quick sharp pain, you can quickly reduce the anxiety you are feeling and restore your focus. Over time this technique will be redundant as you learn to apply the others and develop the skills to reduce the frequency and intensity of your anxious moments.

4: Breathing:

Use of breathing techniques can be used to deal with immediate anxiety so practising in advance will allow you to develop this skill ahead of an exam.

5: Drink water or chew a sweet:

Sooth yourself and reduce any anxiety to a level that helps you stay focused can also be done by taking slow gentle and deliberate sips of water as you focus on the task or by chewing a sweet or some gum. Sweets also help give you energy from the high glucose content.

To manage your exam nerves and exam stress eat, sleep, and play.

Eat - Healthy meals that keep your mood stable, Limit refined sugars and keep meals at the right size so that you do not feel bloated, sleepy or irritable so that you can do your best revision and so reduce exam nerves and exam anxiety.


Sleep - You are human so plan your studies so that you have time to rest. A lot of your effective studying is done whilst you are resting, so plan for this. When you are properly rested the time you use to study will be most effective.


Play - To reduce anxiety, have variety in what you study but also beyond studying too. So plan time for breaks during studying, days off, socialising and time just for you to take a walk, a bit of gym time, recreational reading even gaming. Play is essential to give your mind a break. Get this right and you will find your studying will be a pleasure, effective, your confidence will grow form it and and you will notice how your exam anxiety falls in proportion.


Do you need help with your Exam nerves. Do you want to feel calm and in control at your next exam? Contact Positive Hypnosis here for a free  appointment today. Clinic and Skype Appointments anywhere in the world. Let go of your exam nerves in just a handful of sessions. Find out more by contacting me today.


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