This post was developed via a partnership with BetterHelp.

Feeling anxiety before an exam can be caused by several reasons. If you’re generally not too keen on taking exams, no matter how much you prepare, you can do things to manage your anxiety symptoms and increase your chances of getting a high score. Let’s get to the root of test-taking anxiety and learn how to set yourself up for success.

Causes Of Test Anxiety

When a lot is riding on doing well on an exam, whether it’s getting into your university of choice or even passing a class, anxiety and nervousness are perfectly normal reactions to having to take a test. However, for some people, the fear of taking tests can become so unbearable that it affects their ability to perform their best.

The causes of test anxiety can be any number of things, from being unprepared to having an anxiety disorder, as well as:

  • Having a history of not doing well on tests. Maybe you didn’t study enough beforehand or were too nervous during an exam—if it caused you to fail or get a below-average score, it might exacerbate your anxiety for future exams.
  • Being afraid of failing, especially if you’re someone who ties their self-worth to success or high test scores. This can cause you to feel even more anxious.
  • Not giving yourself enough time to study. If you cram everything at the last minute, you’re likely going to be nervous about forgetting crucial information.

How To Quell Test-Taking Anxiety

If you’re someone who tends to feel anxious before tests, here are some tips to help you feel more at ease when it comes time to start bubbling in your answers:

Communicate your concerns to your teacher and ask them to give you a rundown of everything to expect for your exam so that you have an easier time preparing. Your teacher may also give you some advice about approaching the material.

Practice relaxation techniques to help you regulate your breathing and heart rate before and during the exam.

For some folks, test-taking anxiety could be associated with a learning disability or a condition that makes it challenging to focus, such as ADHD. If you suffer from one of these, look into any accommodations you can get, such as extra time. Speak to your counselor about the next steps to do this.

  • If your test-taking anxiety is becoming too complicated to handle, consider expressing your concerns to a professional. BetterHelp has all the resources you need to find a therapist and get more information on managing test-taking anxiety.


Concentrated student girl or young businesswoman busy with documents working in campus open space. Young asian woman of 20s studying read documents preparing for exam or test in university or college

Test Preparation Tips

Study A Little Everyday To Avoid Cramming

The more you can do to prepare for a test before the day of, the more prepared you’ll feel for the moment of truth. Cramming isn’t practical, and the pressure will make it so that you lose sleep, and losing sleep will ultimately compromise your performance on the test. Try sectioning off your study time over the course of a few days or weeks, maybe an hour to a couple of hours at a time.

Plan Time To Study

In addition to spreading your studying out, make sure you schedule specific times during the day that you solely dedicate to reviewing your lecture notes and completing your reading assignments. It’s easy for other activities in your life to overwhelm your studying, such as work or extracurricular, so scheduling your study time in advance ensures you can peacefully focus on it.

Get To Your Test Early

Rushing to get ready in the morning is a surefire way to intensify your feelings of anxiety right before your exam. Getting to your testing site at least 30 minutes before it starts allows you to ask your instructor any clarification questions on the subject matter you found difficult or get a scope of the topics most prevalent in the exam. This is also an excellent opportunity to pull out some flashcards and give yourself a quick refresher.

Study With A Group

Studying by yourself is good, but it can also make you vulnerable to distractions and getting off track. But if you study with a group, you have the ability to discuss and gain insight on topics that have stumped you, as well as share notes you may have missed during a class you missed, for example. Groups also provide an excellent support system, as you can vent your frustrations or be open about your anxiety, which will take a weight off your shoulder before test day.

Outline Your Study Topics

To make your study time more efficient, consider creating a detailed outline before beginning in order to organize your thoughts and provide a clear plan for yourself about how much you need to go over at a time. This will also give you more time to focus on specific subject matter that may have been challenging to you in the past.

Eat Well And Exercise

There’s a reason they say breakfast is the most important meal of the day. If you’re someone who tends to skip breakfast, try to avoid doing this on test day. Also, try not to eat too much junk food in general, especially while preparing for your exam. Think of it like training for a marathon. You’re going to want to be in the best shape possible, but it’s to energize your brain this time.

Get Your 8 Hours

This goes back to our discussion about cramming. It’s essential to let go of perfection and allow yourself to rest so that your brain operates at total capacity the following day for your exam. No amount of cramming will prepare you much more the night before if you haven’t had any additional study. In fact, there’s a science to prove that getting enough sleep is the best move. Studies show that students who got a good night’s sleep instead of crammed prior to a test scored better overall.

Use The Restroom Before Your Test

Something that can really aggravate test anxiety is having to use the restroom but being on a time crunch to finish your exam. In fact, in some cases, students may not be permitted to leave the testing room before time is up. So make sure you get all your business done ahead of time, so you avoid any distractions or spend too much time worrying that you’re going to have an accident.


Marie Miguel Biography

Marie Miguel has been a writing and research expert for nearly a decade, covering a variety of health- related topics. Currently, she is contributing to the expansion and growth of a free online mental health resource with With an interest and dedication to addressing stigmas associated with mental health, she continues to specifically target subjects related to anxiety and depression.

Image Source: (Licensed)


Related Categories: Health, Education, Reviews