Why are we stressed before an exam

No more exam anxiety

No more blackouts: These 10 tips will help you overcome your exam anxiety

Goodbye exam anxiety - no more fear of failure! D.he exam has started. Your heart beats faster, your hands tremble, you start to sweat. You open your mouth, want to answer. Yes ... but ... what actually? What was the question again? Oh no, it's all over now. Thinking block - blackout!A horrific situation we've all found ourselves in: exam anxiety. We'll tell you how you can take preventive action against this test anxiety - and which tips will help immediately!

What is exam anxiety?

Test anxiety is, by definition, the fear of an assessment of one's own performance, which can prevent the test person from proving the knowledge or skills he has learned in an examination or written test. In short, it is the Fear of failure.

First of all: a little stage fright or nervousness before exams is not bad per se. In demanding situations, which undoubtedly include exams, the body increasingly releases the hormones adrenaline and cortisol. The blood flow to the brain is increased, especially in the region of the hippocampus. This in turn ensures that the examinee can retrieve learned content from memory at the right time. Stage fright therefore leads to increased performance and is even helpful! A little nervousness spurs your brain to perform at its best and promotes learning success.

It becomes problematic when this stage fright increases immeasurably, when the examinee's nervousness suddenly turns into genuine test anxiety. Fear of poor performance. Fear of failure. Fear of the consequences of failure. Trembling, sweating, stuttering, racing heart, nausea ... and in the worst case the total blackout. These are the consequences that test anxiety sufferers.

How does exam anxiety arise?

Exam anxiety arises in the head. The causes usually lie in the examinee's lack of confidence in their own abilities. Sometimes it doesn't matter at all whether the test person has adequately prepared for the test or not. The problem is not the situation - that is, the test itself - but the assessment of this situation. Whereby it is not the examination itself that is the obstacle, but the fear of the consequences of a possible failure. What if I fail the exam? How will my life change? How will friends and family react? Do I get another chance? Was that now finally? This leads to the dreaded mental block. Most of the time, people who go through life with a lack of self-confidence outside of school or university tend to be anxious about exams.

What happens in the event of a blackout?

The blackout goes beyond simple stage fright. It is the moment that the test person feared most. A mental block is the worst form of exam anxiety. If the stress level is increased, the nerve cells in the hippocampus can die. The brain wants to prevent the nerve cells from dying off and defends itself. The hippocampus is put into a kind of shock and can no longer react at all. The result: The examinee can no longer call up the content, he can no longer remember what he has learned. Ultimately, a blackout is nothing more than a protective measure.

How can I avoid exam anxiety?

Here we have put together 5 tips for preventing exam anxiety

Tip 1: Create a learning plan
Exam stress can be a cause of exam anxiety. Therefore, start studying in good time before the exam. The longer you wait with it, the more will build up in the end. In addition, you should organize the learning material sensibly. Your brain can process content better when it is served in bites. A study plan will help you with this.

Tip 2: don't forget to take breaks
No brain in the world can take in endless amounts of content. It is therefore recommended to take a break of 10 to 15 minutes after every 90 minutes. If you have been studying for 4 hours, you should even take a whole hour off. This tip is based on the BRAC (Basic Rest-Activity Cycle) concept by the US sleep researcher Nathaniel Kleitman.

Tip 3: test yourself
Learning is one thing; getting what you have learned in the right situation is quite another. Play the test situation at home, either with friends, family or simply alone in the form of written mini-exams. So you kill two birds with one stone:
First: You check how much of the subject matter you have already learned and recognize where there are still gaps.
Secondly: You will familiarize yourself with the exam situation and gain a sense of achievement. This strengthens self-confidence - and in turn prevents test anxiety.

Tip 4: get enough sleep
When we sleep, we process the experiences of the previous day. This also includes learned content that is stuck in the brain. A lack of sleep also reduces the capacity for absorption and can cause stress. However, you should also pay attention to your biorhythm. Are you a lark (early bird), an owl (late riser) or a normal guy? Depending on which group you feel you belong to, the phase of greatest productivity begins sooner or later.

Tip 5: deal with your fears
Before the exam, write down what worries you. Your brain has already dealt with your fears, perhaps also found suitable solutions. Your head is then free again, you can call up the relevant content during the exam.

Here we have put together 5 tips that will help IMMEDIATELY when the fear of exams is already there!

Despite prevention and avoidance of exam stress, it can of course happen that your exam anxiety gains the upper hand and threatens to blackout. Still, you don't have to lose your nerve and throw the gun in the grain. One of the following tips will help you out of the seemingly inevitable misery - the danger of failure.

Tip 1: stop for a moment
Close your eyes for a moment and become aware of your situation. After all, if you have taken the preventive tips to heart, you have played it through countless times: You are well prepared for the exam, nothing can happen to you. Relax for two to three minutes and give your body a short break before you start it up again - like a PC.

Tip 2: take a deep breath
Proper breathing technique can help reduce stress. If you are stressed, you breathe too quickly and too shallowly. Make sure you maintain an upright posture and take a really deep breath. Tip: Imagine that you are smelling a fragrant flower. Count up to 5 in your mind, then forcefully exhale the air again. Again, count to 5. Repeat this technique at least 5 times.

Tip 3: contract your muscles
A light exercise that you can also do while sitting or standing - Jacobsen's progressive muscle relaxation. Tense specific muscles for a few seconds and then slowly relax (20 to 30 seconds). Start with your feet and legs, work your way from your thighs to your buttocks, from your shoulders to both arms and hands, and finally your back.

Tip 4: choose the best order
If possible, start the exam with the easiest task. This not only saves you time, but also collects the necessary self-confidence for further tasks through correct and quick answers.

Tip 5: wiggle your toes
The toe trick sounds easy, but it really helps! At the beginning of your exam, wiggle your two big toes while focusing on the movement. Your body concentrates on this activity, tension is relieved. This works if you are really CONSCIOUSLY wiggling your toes.

Are there any drugs for exam anxiety?

Yes, there are such drugs. If the tips we have given do not lead to success and test anxiety is your constant companion, we urgently advise you to see a doctor. If he finds out that your test anxiety has the character of an illness, he can take countermeasures with targeted therapies and medication. However, we strongly advise against taking medication without medical supervision.

Are there any natural home remedies or alternative medicines for exam anxiety?

Yes there is. With the home remedies are valerian (helps with difficulty falling asleep and staying asleep due to an upcoming exam) Lavender (helps with anxiety and restlessness) and Passion flower (helps with nervous restlessness and inner tension) to be recommended. Both alternative medicine Remedies can be used on homeopathy, Bach flowers and Schuessler salts. For some time now, CBD has also come to the fore as a tried and tested remedy for internal restlessness and sleep disorders. But even with these apparently harmless "tranquilizers", we strongly advise you to consult a trusted doctor or pharmacist for advice in order to avoid incorrect dosages and side effects or interactions. Drugs and alcohol as sedatives are strongly discouraged!