"Bad experiences in exams can add to anxiety..."

How Can You Avoid Exam Anxiety ?

By Luke Scrutton


Experiencing exam anxiety is normal. As long as the levels of anxiety or stress do not overwhelm you it can be beneficial. Normal levels of anxiety can aid your performance.

Anxiety can cause:

  • Butterflies in the stomach
  • Short temper and irritability
  • Poor sleep patterns
  • Poor appetite or comfort eating

Causes of Anxiety

Take some time to think about why you might be feeling anxious. Once you understand what is causing your anxiety you are better able to reduce its effects. There are lots of causes of anxiety and stress where exams are concerned:

  • Being a  bit of a worrier by nature
  • Being poorly prepared for the upcoming exams
  • Bad experiences in previous exams

Reducing Exam Anxiety

If you are a bit of a worrier by nature or had bad experiences in past exams your levels of anxiety can be reduced by making an early start of your revision. Six to eight weeks before the exam is probably soon enough. Take enough time to do yourself justice. Remember revision is just that- it is about seeing something again and refreshing your knowledge. It is not about new work. If you have worked at a steady pace throughout the year revision should be straight forward. As you revise you will see that you know than you thought you did. This will help reduce your levels of anxiety and stress.


Before the Exams

It is only natural and perfectly normal to feel anxious before exams get under way. Remember, everybody will feel similar emotions. Even top performers in the world of entertainment feel very anxious before their performance. You are therefore in good company!

Planning your revision timetable will help you. Make your plan and stick to it ! Read our blog on revision for tips .https://genietutors.co.uk/the-importance-of-revision/

  • set aside plenty of time for revision
  • sort through your notes and focus on essential material
  • Be active in your revision – make notes and summaries of notes
  • Revise for short periods of time so that you stay fresh and focussed
  • Break up your revision timetable between subjects and tasks
  • Mix  reading notes with writing summaries and testing yourself.

Take Proper Breaks

Studying 24/7 is not a good idea. You will become exhausted long before the actual exams. Instead try to divide your days into 180 minute slots. Three of these slots gives you a 9 hour day. Revise for one slot, rest for the next slot and revise for the final slot. Try to take one day a week off – no revision at all!

Try to keep up with your other activities. It is important that you get the balance between study and leisure. Avoid anything that promises ‘unlimited energy’. There is no such thing and having too much caffeine in you system could be detrimental to your sleeping.

Try to exercise regularly. Swimming, Jogging, Football etc will help take your mind of study and your exams and reduce anxiety. There are also a number of simple meditation techniques that can help you relax and reduce your levels of anxiety. The following link provides some useful information and simple techniques.



Panic the Night Before

Sometimes you have been feeling calm during your revision period. Then panic sets in the night before.

  • Learn in advance how to relax. The meditation techniques mentioned earlier will help.
  • Try to use humour to help you beat negative thoughts. Remember thoughts are just thoughts and not reality.
  • Do your best to be well prepared.
  • However anxious you may feel try to avoid last minute revision. The night before or outside the exam room will not usually help.
  • Make sure you know when and where the exam is
  • Have everything you need – pens, pencils, calculator – ready to take with you.
  • Take some light reading with you – just in case you have to wait to get into the exam room.

Panic Attacks During the Exam

If, as you sit at your desk, you start to feel the panic rise, what can you do?

  • Make yourself comfortable and take a few deep breaths. Take a minute to focus on the positives. You have revised properly – now is your opportunity to show what you know. Tell yourself that you can do it.
  • Most people get tense at this time – it is natural. Your task is now to do your best – show the examiner what you know!
  • Take time to read through all the instructions and questions. Do this at least twice. Make sure you have a good understanding of the questions and how you need to answer them.
  • Pick out the questions that best relate to the revision you have done. Do not rush this. If you can’t decide on all the questions you are going to answer start with the ones you have picked and come back to the other later.
  • Plan your answers. This is really important. Five minutes spent on planing a rough answer will help your thoughts flow.
  • Decide whether you want to tackle the easier or more difficult question first.
  • Manage your time. Know how many marks per minute you can get and don’t spent too long on each question. In a 2 hour exam you should spend no longer than 30 minutes on a question that has a maximum of 25 marks.
  • Avoid perfectionism. It is good to check spelling and punctuation but nobody is expecting perfection.
  • If you feel your panic or anxiety is getting worse stop, put your pen down, close your eyes and breathe slowly for a few minutes.
  • If you feel unwell tell the invigilator and ask if you may leave the room for a few minutes. Taking a few breaths of fresh air and sips of water may be all you need to help you calm down.

How Can I Get Help?

You can talk to Genie Tutors.

Genie Tutors has five Tuition Centres in the Birmingham area. The centres are located in HarborneEdgbastonKings HeathNechells and Sutton Coldfield. Each centre offers after school tuition and exam revision support in Maths and English up to year 12.


All Genie Tutors Birmingham centres are staffed by qualified teachers. They are experts in their field and selected on their ability to motivate and inspire confidence in their students – key factors in helping develop a thirst for learning and developing potential.


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