Everyone becomes anxious before an exam. Some degree of anticipatory anxiety helps in preparation and focus. Too much anxiety can cause poor outcomes. Although there is no formal DSM diagnosis of test anxiety, it is a very real phenomenon. When you have excessive uneasiness, worry, fear, or apprehension about the outcome of an exam to the point that it hinders your performance or impairs the quality of your life, it becomes a problem.
What to do?
1. Get a good night’s sleep before an exam.
2. Make sure to eat breakfast to enhance test performance.
3. Be well prepared for the test.
4. Exercise can be a big benefit in dealing with anxiety. Yoga can help too!
5. Avoid caffeinated drinks – they can worsen anxiety!
6. If problems persist, learn some relaxation techniques - diaphragmatic breathing, progressive muscle relaxation, or visual imagery. Some additional insights from the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH) can be found HERE.
7. Counseling or therapy can be beneficial in dealing with the stress that comes with taking exams. You can seek counseling at Counseling and Psychological Services department at your school or through Learning Services.
8. For more severe anxiety, medications called as the beta-blockers (such as propranolol or metoprolol) can be helpful. These are used to treat blood pressure and reduce the physical symptoms of anxiety. Discussing this and other medication options with your doctor is helpful in determining if they are right for you. For More information from the National Institute of Mental Health, click HERE.