IntroductionTest anxiety

In a test-conscious society, the lives of students are greatly influenced by their test performance. Testing is an essential part of society and it is used to test and assess job placement and progression. As society continues to expand and evolve, test performance is likely to become an increasingly important factor in evaluating success. Test anxiety is the experience of feeling intense fear, anxiety, or panic before or during an exam or assessment.

The distinction between fear, anxiety, and panic can be quite subtle, but they have distinctive and significant differences. Fear is a response to a particular observable danger. 

Know About Anxiety

Anxiety is a diffuse, objectless apprehension in anticipation of future danger or misfortune accompanied by an unpleasant mood or somatic symptoms. A panic attack is an unexpected onset of intense fearfulness, or terror, often associated with feelings of impending doom occurring at an inappropriate time.

Test Anxiety

Test anxiety is characterized by uneasiness, apprehension, hopelessness, and expectations of failure. Usually, it occurs as an established set of responses to stimuli based upon the student’s past experiences in testing situations and is commonly attributed to concern, worry, or fear.

Stress caused by anxiety creates a hormone called cortisol, and too much cortisol can inhibit the hippocampus’ ability to recall memories. So, excessive stress can make it difficult to concentrate, and you might struggle to remember things you know. This inability to concentrate and recall information causes more anxiety and stress, making it much harder to focus on the test.

High Test Anxiety is Common Among Students

Students who experience high anxiety have an immediate anxiety response when they are subjected to the feared test scenario. They try to escape the situation by not showing up for the test, or they might show up, but they do not answer the question because of intense stress.

So far, we have just discussed the negative aspects of anxiety. Do you think it is entirely evil? No, of course. Anxiety is an indicator that shows what you are doing is important.

Nervousness Can Be Beneficial.

It makes you feel mentally alert and ready to face up to the challenges posed in the exam. The law of Yerkes-Dodson indicates that there is a correlation between the degree of excitement and performance. Increased levels of enthusiasm will help you do better on tests, but only up to a certain extent. Once these stress levels cross the line, the excess pressure may interfere with the test’s performance.

test anxiety

Symptoms of Test Anxiety

According to the American Anxiety and Depression Association. Symptoms of test anxiety can be physical, cognitive, behavioral, and emotional.

Test anxiety symptoms

These can include sweating, shaking hands, rapid heartbeat, dry mouth, feeling queasy. Milder test anxiety cases can cause a feeling of “butterfly” in the stomach, whereas more serious cases may cause students to become extremely sick.

Behavioral and cognitive symptoms of test anxiety

These can include fidgeting or completely avoiding test situations, negative self-talk, difficulty focusing on the test, and racing thoughts are typical cognitive symptoms of test anxiety. In certain cases, the anxiety test may become so serious that students drop out of school to avoid the source of their fear. Substance abuse may also occur when many students try to self-treat their anxiety by taking prescription drugs and alcohol.

Emotional symptoms

The symptoms of test anxiety can include low self-esteem, depression, frustration, and a feeling of hopelessness. Students often feel unable to improve or belittle their condition and berate themselves for their symptoms and poor test results.

Stressful emotions impair the ability of a student to absorb, retain and recall information. Anxiety produces a kind of “noise” or “mental static” in the brain that inhibits our ability to retrieve what is stored in memory and seriously impairs our ability to understand and reason.

Causes of Test Anxiety

Biological Causes

In stressful conditions, such as before and during the test, the body releases adrenaline hormones. An adrenaline rush is a good thing. It helps you prepare to deal effectively with stressful situations, ensuring that you are alert and ready.

For some people, high-level adrenaline causes high anxiety. The symptoms of anxiety so excessive that it makes them impossible to focus on the test.

Mental Causes

Your expectation is one of the major mental factors. If you believe that you will perform poorly on an exam, most probably, you will be anxious before and during the exam.

Test anxiety may develop into a vicious cycle. After experiencing anxiety during a single exam, students may become so scared that it will happen again. After repeatedly experiencing test anxiety, students begin to feel no power to change the situation.

The second big fear to conquer is the fear of inadequacy, feeling that you are unprepared for the challenges the test presence. The best way to accomplish this fear is to prepare for it. The will the win is nothing without the will to prepare. Know the gaps that will allow you to focus most efficiently on the fact and concepts you need to solidify in your mind.


  • Students experiencing high levels of anxiety during the exams would get a low score.
  • Students tend to perceive exams as threatening and respond with intense emotional responses, making it difficult to focus on the task.
  • Exam anxiety can also affect your ability to demonstrate your skills in academic and cognitive capabilities.
  • High-level anxiety has a negative effect on learning and recalling information.
  • Too much anxiety affects students’ health and causes mental problems.


Learning how to handle exam anxiety can have several positive effects, such as:

  • Improved academic performance
  • Reduction in stress and distress
  • Increased sense of control and confidence
  • Decreased frustration

How Can I Manage Exam Anxiety?

1. Try to find a statement that reminds you of how to overcome the situation.

“If I get anxious, I can try some calm breathing.”

“I can do my best.”

 “This happened many times before, and I know how to handle it.”

“My anxiety won’t last forever.”

2. Say positive things about yourself, rather than Criticizing yourself.

 “I know I can do this.”

“Everyone experiences anxiety. I can handle this.”

“I’m not dumb if I have trouble with a test. Lots of students struggle with tests.”

“I’m strong enough to do this test. I did it before. I can do it again.

3. Use alternative statements that challenge negative thinking.

You are not good at chemistry, and when you have a chemistry exam, you can create a thought like the one below.

“I know I’m not able to pass the chemistry exam tomorrow. But it doesn’t mean that if I fail the chemistry exam, I will fail the entire class. Even if I don’t pass the exam, it doesn’t mean I will never graduate from high school. I passed many school assignments and tests before. I can also pass this”.

Anxiety Management Before The Exams

The main reason for the mental causes of test anxiety is inadequacy, feeling that you are unprepared for the test presence challenges. The best option to overcome this anxiety is to prepare. The will to win is nothing without the will to prepare.


1. Simulate exam room

Spend some time practicing in a class that looks and feels like you’re going to be tested. Examine yourself under the same constraints that you will face during the exam. Solve the same type of questions in the same amount of time. Take a mock exam. Try yourself for several days.

test anxiety

2. Pay attention to your self-talk

We feel anxious when we believe something bad is going to happen. For example, imagine that you have an SAT exam tomorrow. If you think, “I am going to fail,” you will feel scared and anxious. But, if you think, “I am prepared for this test, and I will pass,” “I am smart enough to do well,” you will feel calm.

3. Put things into perspective

Remember that your next exam is important, but your whole future doesn’t depend on this exam. It might also be helpful to tell yourself that regardless of your performance on the test, it is not the end of the world.

4. Please don’t give them the power to define you to a test

The exam will not tell you whether you are the most brilliant or the least brilliant student in your class. Your performance depends mostly on how effectively you have studied for the test, the quality of your formal education, and the test-taking techniques you use.

5. Imagine the successful completion of the test

Play the whole “tape” in your mind using vivid images – from the time you wake up on the day of the test to the time you finish the test.

6. Remind yourself that a certain level of anxiety helps you perform best

You can always use anxiety control strategies to moderate your anxiety level if it becomes excessive.

7. Give yourself practice tests

Give yourself practice tests and use them to work on your test-taking and practice controlling your anxiety level. Intentionally provoke anxiety by saying negative things and then practice the Anxiety Control Procedure. If you’re afraid of not finishing the exam in time, do timed practice questions.

8. Get a good night’s sleep for several days before the exam

Adequate sleep helps you to think clearly and control anxiety. You might try imagining yourself as a professional athlete: ask yourself how you would prepare yourself mentally and physically for an important game.

9. Reduce coffee consumption

Too much caffeine may lead to increased anxiety and make you irritable and agitated in situations that usually wouldn’t affect you.

Anxiety Management Night Before The Exam

You have been feeling quite calm. Everything was alright during the exam preparation. Night Before the Exam, you feel more anxious, uneasy. Use the following tips to manage your anxiety.

Learn in advance how to relax.

In that way, you will feel confident. If you start to panic, or if your mind goes flat, you will be able to regain control.

Try using humor to help you beat down negative feelings.

Read a book or comic book, watch a funny DVD, or think about your favorite jokes.

Don’t study the night before the exam and the morning of the exam.

Professional test-takers stop studying a few days before the exam. Try to do something relaxing like a stroll or a warm bath.

Eat something even though you’re feeling sick.

Bread, crackers, and cereals are healthy for you to relax your stomach.

Make sure you know exactly where and when the test is going.

Try not to be late for the exam. Being late considerably boosts the anxiety.

The night before your exam, have everything ready.

 pens, pencils, calculator, matriculation card, etc.

Test Anxiety Management During The Exams

Get to the test location minimum of 10 minutes early.

Try to avoid talking with other students right before the exam. Their anxieties may influence your own. Take a walk around the building and talk to yourself, meditate, breathe, and pray. Moving your body can help rid you of some of the nervous energy you are experiencing.

Make yourself comfortable.

Before your exam begins, go to the toilet. Adjust your clothing. To try to relieve the stress you are feeling, take a few deep breaths. Close your eyes to rest a little while.

Remember that most participants feel tense during the exam.

No need to be anxious. You’ve already prepared. Your job now is to do your best.

Read through the instructions and questions slowly and carefully.

Make sure you understand the questions completely.

Choose the questions that best apply to the revision you have done.

Do not rush anything. Taking time at this point can later earn bonuses. If you can’t answer all the questions, start with the easy one, and then return to the questions you leave.

Avoid perfectionism.

Tell yourself. I don’t want to be flawless, I want to make it useful; I want to make it good, and I want to make it sound like.

Try to control your test anxiety

If you are not able to manage your anxiety and getting worse. Stop, put down your pen and relax. Close your eyes have a deep breath for a few minutes.  Shake your arms and stretch. Turn your head back and forth to relieve tension. Be positive, motivate and encourage yourself by saying, “I can do it.” Visualize yourself at a different place where you want to be, where you feel relaxed and happy.

  1. If you feel uneasy, ask the invigilator if you can leave the exam room for a short while. Take fresh air, and have some sips of water. Maybe all you need is to calm down.
  2. Did you study every part needed to pass the exam? Yes, you did, then, there is nothing to worry about the exam. You are ready for the exam. You are going to do well in the test.



  1. Vagg, P. R., & Spielberger, C. D. (1995). Treatment of test anxiety: Applications of the transactional process model. In C. D. Spielberger & R. Vagg (Eds.). Test Anxiety: Theory, Assessment, and Treatment.
  2. Lawson, Darla Jane, “Test Anxiety: A Test of Attentional Bias” (2006). Electronic Theses and Dissertations.38.