Calm Before the Storm: How to Properly Deal With Exam Stress


Exams are an unavoidable part of being a student. These tests are designed to gauge your knowledge about the subject matter, and this is where the bulk of your overall grade will come from. Everyone has experienced exams in one way or another, and almost everyone can attest to the uneasy feeling called exam stress.

Exam stress, as defined by, is “the feeling of tension and worry that comes from test-taking situations.” This feeling can manifest through easily identifiable physical symptoms like a fast heartbeat and difficulty breathing. Still, it can also turn into a full-blown panic attack if not appropriately managed.

So if managing stress associated with exams is the way to combat it, how can we properly do it? Read the article to find out.

4 Common Causes of Exam Stress

Exam stress is a feeling experienced by everyone since almost every institution requires tests to be taken. Whether you are still a student or already a working professional, exams, in one form or another, need to be taken for you to progress.

This universality is also why everyone can agree about the impact of test anxiety or exam stress. There are also many contributing factors to why this dreaded feeling is experienced.

While there are specific factors unique to every individual, they can be categorised into 4 common causes. And these causes are:

1. Lack of Preparation

Cramming student


Coming into an exam without ample preparation is tantamount to going into war without bullets. The scary thing about preparation is it is unquantifiable, meaning you cannot honestly know whether you’ve done enough.

This uncertainty makes the possibility of exam stress even higher since every exam you take is a stab in the dark, hoping that your preparations are enough. There have been countless stories about someone feeling they’ve prepared enough, only to fail after taking the test; that’s why preparation induces stress.

2. Pressure From the People Around You

Picture of a family


From a very young age, the weight of education has been ingrained in our minds by our parents and teachers, and sometimes it can be hard to live up to these expectations. The idea of our future resting on whether we pass or fail our exams can be too much to bear for some, thus causing test anxiety.

Teachers also add to the pressure by constantly reminding students of the repercussions should they fail, with some teachers even using the idea of failing as a scare tactic for students. These expectations, combined with other factors in an individual’s life, can bring about exam stress if not managed properly.

3. Pressure You Put On Yourself

A representation of overthinking


You are your most prominent critic, and the goals you set for yourself can sometimes explain your anxiety in exams and life. The fear of not being able to achieve your goals if you fail your exams can sometimes contribute to the stress associated with the exam itself.

Our minds are such powerful tools that we can condition them to be laser-focused on a goal. But the downside of our minds is that when even a tiny amount of doubt creeps in, it can spread like wildfire. With the fear of failing in life constantly in the background, it can be hard to resist exam stress.

4. The Idea of Competition



A little competitive spirit doesn’t hurt, but when someone compares themselves to other people too much, it can poison the mind and lead to unnecessary stress associated with exams. Suppose you’re just the second-best student in a particular subject; there is always that need to get ahead of the best student, which creates pressure.

While pressure is good in most cases, too much of it can lead to anxiety. Obsessing over something for so long and not achieving it can result in disappointment, and disappointment due to not being able to compete can result in test anxiety.


Related: 4 Common Barriers to Learning and How to Conquer Them

How to Properly Deal With Exam Stress

Exam stress doesn’t just affect your performance in school and your grades; it can also affect other aspects of your life.

The decrease in confidence you get because of all the stressful things you’ve experienced before an exam can spill over to your personal life and affect everything you do; that’s why it’s good to know how to deal with test anxiety properly.

While it’s easy to say that one should just be more prepared before the exams, there are a lot of mental elements that come into play when dealing with exam stress. These elements are:

1. Set Achievable Goals

SMART goals


While it’s nice to set goals for yourself in anything you do, having unrealistic goals can cause unnecessary stress and a lot of effort. The first thing you should know before going into any exam is the extent of your capabilities.

Reaching beyond what you can do can only set you up for disappointment, and the fear of disappointment can contribute to your exam stress. If you want to properly deal with exam stress, set small, achievable milestones for yourself, boosting your confidence little by little.

2. Two (or More) Heads are Better Than One

Study group


If you are having trouble with particular lessons on any of your subjects, then maybe it’s time to enlist the help of your classmates in studying. The presence of your classmates can help ease the tension of your upcoming tests, and they can also offer a fresh take on these specific lessons.

Remember that we all have different skills and levels of understanding, and you can benefit from hearing your classmates’ ideas, just as they can benefit from hearing yours. Having a group that you can rely on also tells you that you’re not encountering these challenges alone, which can boost the whole group’s confidence.

2. Find a Place That is Suited For Learning

Students in a library


Reviewing for exams is typically when an individual forms test anxiety. The anticipation, coupled with different negative thoughts, can throw you off your focus and make you form a feeling of dread that can stay with you until the day of the exam.

The best way to counteract these negative feelings is to find a place where you can solely focus on the lessons and nothing else. As much as we adore our pets, they can sometimes distract us and allow the negative thoughts associated with the exams to creep in.

Finding a place where absorbing the lessons is almost automatic is key to overcoming exam stress. Maybe you need to get out of your room and study at your kitchen table or in the living room. Perhaps the trick is to crash in your siblings’ room and study there. Find a perfect spot to review and feel the thoughts roll in automatically!

3. Take Short Breaks

The word “break” written with a marker


Even the best of us could use short breaks once in a while. Going full throttle for a long time can leave you feeling exhausted and drained; that’s why breaks are essential. When the mind is tired, it becomes susceptible to negative thoughts, creating an opening for test anxiety.

Taking 10-15min breaks can do wonders when it comes to dealing with stress. Just make sure to spend the breaks to rest and recuperate instead of being distracted by gadgets or video games, though. Proper management and well-thought placements of your breaks can help ease the tension that has been building and allow cool you off.

4. Enroll in Tuition Centres

Students inside a tuition class


One of the best things you can do when preparing for exams is to enlist the help of tuition centres. Tuition centres are comprised of tutors that have expertise in essential subjects such as maths, English, chemistry, and physics, and they can help you conquer the lessons and your fear of the subject.

One such tuition centre in Singapore is Path Finder Tuition. The tutors at Path Finder Tuition know the struggles associated with exams, and they have the right methods to help you cope with the stress that comes with tests. If you are looking for a professional touch with how you cope with stress, don’t hesitate to give Path Finder Tuition a try.

Related articles: 11 Advantages of Tuition Classes and Why You Should Enroll in One Today

6 Things to Consider Before Choosing a Tuition Centre


Exam stress can hit us all differently, but when you know the general concepts of dealing with it, you can go through just about any exam without worries. Having the proper mindset and having the courage to face the unknown will also help you in the long run.

No one has to go through challenges alone, Path Finder Tuition knows this for a fact, and we are prepared to help you go through these problems. We specialise in dealing with particularly challenging subjects, and we are dedicated to helping you go through your exams unscathed.

Please feel free to browse the website for more information about our services.


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