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Are exam nerves a problem for you?

Taking an exam is stressful for most people, it's quite normal to feel a bit nervous. In fact, these feelings can help exam candidates perform well on the day. Not wanting to fail can also motivate people to do enough work to pass.

However, for some people nerves are more of a problem. Even though they have done enough work to pass, they panic on exam day and don't get the result they've worked for.

Do you panic in exams? If so, how can you keep your nerves under control?

In the video at the bottom of this NHS page, teenagers discuss how they approach exams and what strategies they use to deal with exam nerves. What you'll probably notice is that there is no single way that is effective for everyone. What is important is that each individual works out a routine and strategies that work for them.

On a personal level, I've always remembered the advice my maths teacher gave us at secondary school. He told us that exams were just like a big quiz and you simply had to do better than the other people (luckily we had a great maths teacher, so were already one step ahead!). The other useful tip he gave was that if a question was difficult, it was difficult for everyone. This isn't 100% true but believing it helped me to stay focused in exams and stopped me worrying too much about the tricky questions.

Here are seven tips to help on exam day.

  • Do practise papers before the exam so you know exactly what to expect.

  • Have a quick walk in the fresh air before the exam.

  • If you get stuck, move on to a different question.

  • Take deep breaths.

  • Smile during the speaking test.

  • Use the breaks to give your brain a chance to re-charge.

  • Remember that it's normal to be a bit nervous

What strategies do you use to cope with exam nerves?


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