Overcoming Performance Anxiety during Examinations 

performance anxiety

Have you ever felt confident in a  subject before entering the examination only to get a grade lower than expected? The thing is, you are not alone. The majority of the students face this problem as well, but not everybody has performance anxiety. 


What is Performance Anxiety?

Performance anxiety is a fear that you are unable to perform specific tasks. Students who experience performance anxiety for school are constantly worried about failing a task before it has even begun. Students might also believe that failure could result in serious consequences such as getting humiliated or disappointing others. 


Signs that you suffer from performance anxiety 

1 – Racing pulse and rapid breathing

2 – Increased heart rate 

3 – Trembling hands, knees, lips, and voice

4 – Sweaty and cold hands 

5 – Feeling nausea and uneasy 


Having performance anxiety during examinations affects students showing their best abilities. Hence, how can students lower the chances of having performance anxiety or defeat it once and for all? Here are X ways to overcome performance anxiety for school 


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10 ways to overcome performance anxiety for school and exams


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1 – Do enough practice 

Doing enough practice gives you sufficient knowledge about how questions in the examinations could be structured to ask the same thing. Having enough practice also boost students’ confidence in their studies. One of the first ways to tackle performance anxiety is to boost one’s confidence in school. 

Read also: 


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2 – Change up your study environment frequently 

Your examination hall is most likely not going to be your hostel or home study space. Hence, switching up your study environment will allow you to adapt to a new environment more quickly. Therefore, when you step into the examination hall, your brain is already accustomed to new study environments, allowing you to swiftly transition into study mode once the examination commences. 


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3 – Simulating an examination environment 

Aside from switching up your study environment, it is also advisable to stimulate examination settings, such as timed practice and a silent environment. As you incorporate these simulations during your revision, you are preparing yourself for examination day. It can help you to calm your nerves and feel less overwhelmed during exams as this setting is nothing new to you. 


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4 – Look for help 

If you find that your performance anxiety is giving you sleepless nights and difficulty concentrating, it might be time to seek professional help. As much as performance anxiety can be fixed easily, it can also spiral into something uncontrollable and detrimental to one’s mental health. Hence, if you are feeling anxious all the time prior to examinations, you are encouraged to reach out. Remember, you are not alone. 


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5 – Limit caffeine intake 

Moving past all the technical points, taking care of our body heath is equally important in overcoming performance anxiety. The biggest culprit when it comes to anxiety is always caffeine. Caffeine is the driver behind most of our anxiety attacks. In other words, caffeine could be fueling your anxieties. Caffeine stimulates your “fight or flight” response causing your anxiety to be worse and can even trigger an anxiety attack. 


Signs that caffeine is triggering your anxiety 

  • Feeling nervous and jittery 
  • Increased heart rate 
  • Nausea 
  • Abdominal pain 


performance anxiety

6 – Stop yourself whenever you think negatively 

It may require a lot of mental strength to think positively when you are thinking for the worse. There are some ways to identify your negative thoughts:

  • Talk to someone you trust about the things that are causing you distress 
  • Find the trigger for your negative thoughts through self-reflection 
  • Practice journaling your feelings and thoughts 


When you have identified the roots of your negative thoughts, you are more likely able to tackle the problem. If your negative thoughts come from the overwhelming stress you put on yourself in school, it could be time to take a different approach to the way you study and view your academics. 


performance anxiety

7 – Exercise regularly and sleep enough 

Your well-being is essential for overcoming mental stress like anxiety. Results have shown that exercising will cause the level of chemicals in your brain, such as serotonin, stress hormones, and endorphins to change. When we exercise, our stress hormones decrease as our brain releases endorphins. Endorphins are hormones that interact with the receptors in your brain that reduce your perception of pain. Additionally, endorphins are known to be the body’s natural painkillers. It helps us to stay positive and essentially release stress. 


Not to mention that incorporating exercise into your routine can help you to sleep better.  Exercise helps to improve sleep quality, increase your sleep amount and help with insomnia and other sleep disorders. 


Burning the midnight oil is no longer the trend for students, getting enough sleep is. Getting enough sleep is essential for students as it helps with memory and concentration. Both of which are important for studying and revision. 


Read also: Sleep Deprivation: How It Affects Students & Good Habits To Adopt for Better Sleep


performance anxiety

8 – Self-reflection

Doing self-reflection allows us to track our well-being, feelings, thoughts, and progress on things. Self-reflection can help students to identify the things that are triggering their performance anxiety. 


performance anxiety

9 – Always set realistic goals and expectations 

The stress and pressure students feel from school are enormous sometimes. It can be overwhelming to keep up the good grades or even stay above the average line. These are what cause students to develop performance anxiety over time. Students should always be mindful when it comes to setting academic expectations and goals. Though setting high expectations can be others’ motivating factor to do well, it can be seen as stressful for some. Make sure your goals are challenging and realistic for you. 


performance anxiety

10 – Schedule break time during your study sessions

Break times are needed to recover from any stress you are facing while revising your work. Having breaks in between your study sessions helps to reduce the built-up stress from long hours of studying. Your break time should include stress-relieving activities such as taking your mind off studies, going for a walk, talk to your friends about other things outside of school. Make sure your rest time helps you to destress instead of adding to your existing stress. 

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