Tips & Tricks
How to Cure Exam Nerves
Exam nerves are common, understandable, and the cure is known. You can start by
taking these steps right now.
- Realize that exam nerves aren't a total loss. Research has shown that optimal performance
on a test occurs when the test taker is in a state between total relaxation and
- Use visualization to cast yourself in the role of successful test taking. Recognize
if you have the "failure habit," that is if you consistently think of yourself as
failing at a test.
- Spend your energy on the exam, not on fear. Think about the work, not the worry.
Focus on the questions themselves.
- Respect your right answers too. Don't stress if you miss a question or two.
- Be prepared. Take selective notes, Review the last few pages of notes quickly before
each class meets. Review all notes from time to time. Jot down questions to ask
in class and spot items you want to look up in a reference book. Do reading assignments
on schedule, don't let them pile up for one big cram session. Stop and summarize
at the end of each paragraph or section. Underline or highlight main ideas. Cards
with the topic names on one side and your summary of it on the other are useful
aids. Recite formulas, summaries, important concepts and definitions to help emphasize
what you have learned.
- Know what the exam will cover and the extent of knowledge or skill that will be
expected. Know what type of exam it will be, essay, multiple choice, true/false,
fill in, or a combination of these.
- Don't overdo it. Relaxation and enough sleep are at least as important as effective
- Some helpful tips while in the exam room:
Relax! Try taking two or three deep breaths, let them out slowly.
Next, look over all the questions briefly this gives you an idea what is expected.
Answer the easier questions first, then go on to the harder questions. Don't spend
to much time on any one question.
In an essay exam, first jot down the main points on scratch paper. From this you
can organize your answer on the test. Write legible. If you finish before the test
time expires, review your answers, checking for spelling, punctuation and grammar.