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Anxiety is a normal reaction to any perceived threat or anticipation of danger, which most often manifests as apprehension, tension, or uneasiness. If we believe that something important to us is under threat, if we overestimate that threat and underestimate our ability and available resources to deal with it, then we will feel anxious. Exam anxiety is often associated with fears that the results will be lower than we would like, or even fears of failure. This type of anxiety can be the result of underestimating our abilities or the resources we have to help us achieve our desired level in exams. Conversely, anxiety before an exam can be a natural reaction to insufficient preparation for the exam.

Exam anxiety has always been a big problem for me. I am always apprehensive that I might fail. This anxiety is so strong that it often throws me off balance and I forget everything I know, so I actually fail the exam. I am ‘tired’ of this condition, and now I decided to find out what can help me cope with it.

First of all, to deal with my exam anxiety, I need to develop an effective study skill. Scientists have shown through their research that the more prepared students feel for the test, the less likely anxiety will interfere with their performance once the test is underway. So, I always have to study before the exam and repeat the important points or give relevant examples or illustrations to recall the issue. The more time we spend on an important point, the more likely we will identify it as important to note.

Besides, I’ve found that note-taking from a textbook can be very helpful for me as well. Most textbooks provide obvious cues to help students differentiate what should be noted, such as italicizing important ideas or printing words in bold type. Consequently, textbooks typically organize content using headings and subheadings and use graphics to illustrate the content. So, to reduce my anxiety before the exam or text, I should read the textbooks carefully and answer the questions at the end of each chapter for better preparation.

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Nevertheless, good time management can also help me self-monitor my study time and follow a set schedule with realistic time frames. I decided to set a timetable for myself: 2 hours’ study time before sleep and followed by 10 to 15 minutes’ study breaks. During my study breaks, I will have the opportunity to get up and move around so that I can digest what I have studied and better focus on the remaining study schedule.

Next, I think freewriting can be useful for me to overcome test anxiety. Researchers found that students who were prone to test anxiety improved their performance on a high-stakes exam by nearly one point after they were given 10 minutes to write about something that made them afraid. It is thought that channeling anxiety through writing before an exam can free up mental capacity and reduce the demands on working memory. I plan to make this technique a habit because I strongly believe that it can really produce a positive result.

Last but not least, according to Conroy and Metzler (2004), positive self-talk and affirmations are also one of my choices when dealing with test anxiety. Words can send powerful messages that influence thoughts, beliefs, and behavior. Negative self-talk and cognitive distortions commonly accompany anxiety. However, when we replace negative self-talk with positive self-talk and affirmations, it can help to counteract the cognitive symptoms of anxiety or irrational thinking. For instance, I plan to use short and simple statements such as ‘I am smart and capable’, ‘I am well prepared and confident’, and ‘I enjoy the challenge of a test or exam’. So, I can focus during the exam without the interference of anxiety.

All in all, I really hope that all the ways described here to deal with my test anxiety will be successful and I will finally feel more calm and able to fully show myself and my level of knowledge.

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