Overcoming Exam Nerves


Benjie Bensing

Pass or Fail. Photo Courtesy: Shutterstock

Pass or Fail. Photo Courtesy: Shutterstock

It’s that time of school again: Exams!

For college students (or high school students), the thought of being required to read that pesky test paper and being expected to answer them correctly is just so overwhelming. What a student goes through each periodical exams (prelim, midterm, etc.) is no ordinary feat. Can you relate? A lesser mortal may not have survived the dreadful ordeal and live to tell the tale.

Before and during exams could be physically exhausting. I know what it’s like. To be honest, there were times I was clueless how severely discombobulated I am. Thank God I survived college. Here are tips to consider to help you overcome those unsettling nerves when taking exams.


There will be some days that you are not going to be okay. Well, that’s okay. As long as you understand what’s the difference between the literary works of John Milton and Dante Alighieri. But in case you don’t, that makes you not okay. Don’t panic. Presence of mind will enable you to sail through the rough tempest until it is over.

After the exams, how many correct answers you produced will not define who will you become in life. Neither it will increase nor decrease your value as a person. How you value your self-worth is all that matters.

Besides, you don’t need to memorize actual verses from Paradise Lost or remember one canto from Divine Comedy’s “Inferno”. If Paradise Lost opens in hell, Dante’s Inferno is a no-brainer.

Take courage and ownership of your shortcomings. Do better next time. You are not in a court room receiving a life sentence but in a classroom trying to measure your learning curve.


That’s right. You feel nervous and the butterflies in your stomach seems to flutter higher and higher. And then a mental picture of your crush flashes back in your mind. And you get distracted. You’ve got this far-away look in your glazy eyes as the teacher distributes the questionnaire. Oops.

That’s not going to help you when you desperately need answers to the more pressing questions in the test paper. Unless of course the test is about writing a 500-words essay about your crush (which by the way will never happen in 500 years). Getting distracted will only add anxiety to your mental pressure and unpleasant somatic symptoms.

You need to concentrate. Looking at your seatmate’s test answers will not help you either, especially if the teacher watching over the exams prowls around like a ghastly pestilence.


Stop cramming on your K-Pop notes. School work and homework is absolutely tiring and you are already tired of being tired. Go to bed early. You need sleep – lots of it, Vitamin C, and hope for a miracle (so help me God).

A strong immune system is vital if you want to survive. Self-discipline and a well-developed review notes is essential if you want to kick some serious academic butts to land on the Deans’ List.

Most importantly, don’t forget to strike a wholesome balance between your health and your grades.


You were busting your butts in reviewing architectural designs and concepts but the exams was mostly on architectural impact on the natural environment. What can you do? Nothing, of course.

Ever heard of mental block? Surprise. Yep, I’ve experienced that, too. It happens when you can’t answer easy questions that you are already familiar of. You scan your mind mentally for something but there’s nothing. You just seem to “lost” it. And it’s hilariously irritating how it suddenly turns up after the exams.

While it is critically important to invest a healthy amount of time to prepare for an exam, it is equally important to train yourself to expect surprises when that day comes. That way, it will no longer shock the heaven out of you; rather, you will just simply become “curious” as to what will it be, or how it is going to play out. It gives you the confidence that no matter what comes along you are prepared for the unpredictable.

So if you are reading this, and you have an upcoming exams a few days from now, do yourself a favor: get your lazy limbs up and start reviewing. And make your parents proud.



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