It’s that time of year again…. Exam Time.  The time when you wish you could rewind and go back and do all the studying you meant to do. The time when your head is so full of stuff that you doubt you’ll even be able to remember your own name to put at the top of the page.

Being anxious about an exam is very common and most people experience at least some level of anxiety.  However, when anxiety grows and grows and starts to interfere with your exam performance that’s a whole different thing.   Many people experience thoughts going round and round their head as well as physical symptoms like a fast heartbeat, headaches or nausea.  This anxiety can become so debilitating it can actually lead to the derailing of all your hard work and exam preparation.

Causes of exam anxiety may include a fear of failure, a lack of preparation or previous bad experiences in an exam setting.  The following are seven tips to help you stay calm and in control, allowing you to do the best you possibly can during your exam:

Be Prepared – If you still have time,  make a study plan and stick to it.  Don’t overdo it or try to cram huge amounts of information in at the end.  Your brain will just feel overloaded.  Instead decide how much time a night you can realistically dedicate to studying and make a list of the things you need to study.  Prioritise what’s the most important for you and stick to your plan. 


Eat well – Eat nutritious meals the night before your exam and a healthy breakfast on the day of the exam.  Pack small, healthy snacks to have before you go in to the exam.  Eating quality nutritious food (not sugary snacks) will provide you with the energy you need to perform well on the day. 


Sleep well – As mentioned don’t cram the night before the exam but have a relaxing evening and make sure you get a good night’s sleep.  Approximately 8 – 10 hours sleep will make sure your brain is refreshed and you are ready to give your best performance on the day.


Practice Positive Thinking – Don’t tell yourself you’re rubbish and you will fail.  You get what you focus on so focus on doing brilliantly.  Tell yourself the answers will come to you when you need them and spend a few minutes every morning when you waken and just before you sleep visualising yourself doing amazingly.  I’m a great believer in visualisation and I’ve used it myself successfully in exams.


Focus on your breathing  – If you feel anxious during the exam take a minute or two to focus on your breathing.  Take long slow breaths in and breathe out a second or two longer than the in breath.  This will help you relax and be calm so you can continue with the exam.  Practicing relaxing makes a big difference and you will be surprised how much easier it becomes to be calm, the more you practice.  Sign up for my newsletter and you will get a free Rest and Relax audio file to download and use to practice.  It’s only ten minutes long so ideal to get started with.  The link is


Get there early – Give yourself enough time to get to the exam centre early enough so you can relax and focus before going in.  Get in the zone and remind yourself that you’ve done the studying, you’re more than capable of getting a good result and you deserve to do well. 


Don’t give anyone else a thought – Focus on the task in hand and don’t look round to see how others are doing.  You’ve no idea if they’re doing really well by being finished earlier or whether they’ve not known the answers so don’t waste time even thinking about it.  This is YOUR opportunity to prove that you can do it and that all the work and preparation will be worth it. 


I hope these tips are helpful and if test anxiety is debilitating you, take steps today to help you overcome this.  Sometimes only a few hypnotherapy sessions can make a huge difference.  Remember too that once the exam is over there is no point going over and over wondering how you’ve done.  You’ll find out soon enough and either way you will deal with it.  I wish you all the very best of luck in your exams.