ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Final exam anxiety-16 strategies to help college and university students overcome exam day jitters

Updated on August 29, 2013

Preparing for final exams

If you're in college, you are probably writing or preparing for your final exams. There are some people who fall apart on exam day, some people who just want to leave quickly, and some people who are skilled at test taking and totally ace the final. How can you ensure that you won't be afflicted by exam anxiety? Here are 16 tips. Since I teach English and Liberal Arts courses, my advice is mostly geared towards this type of exam. However, science and math people may glean some wisdom too.

Work on your course consistently

Your preparation for the exam starts way before the exam. Attend your classes, then review and summarize your notes. Go over anything you don't understand, and ask your professor or tutor for clarification. When it comes time to review again, you won't be looking at the information for the first time and overloading your cerebral circuits trying to stuff your head with new material. .

Find a study partner if you can

Being able to discuss course concepts with someone else will help improve your learning. You wil learn and support each other's efforts, and that can make all the difference. This can go a long way to alleviate final exam anxiety.

Review your instructor's feedback

Even the smallest comment can shift your perspective or sharpen your knowledge. I find that the A+ students are always the ones who pester me the most about feedback, even if it's a about one grammar error. They don't want to make that mistake again. On the other hand, the students who are getting lower grades can be more shy; they are self conscious and afraid of being embarrassed. Don't be. We respect and support people who want to learn and improve.

Exam format: Multiple choice vs short answer vs essay question

Make sure you know what kind of exam you are writing. If your exam is multiple choice, that will require very specific knowledge, and factual information in a lot of cases. Be sure you also understand core concepts, because some questions will require critical thinking.

Short answer tests also require that you are familiar with a lot of content. Be sure that you have mastered concepts and information in all your textbooks and especially in your notes. The class notes are your road map to what the professor thinks is important, where key themes are emphasized. You will be less successful if you just study chapters in a textbook.

Essay exams are more broad and tend to cover core themes, but also require that you master information in texts and be aware of key concepts. You will be expected to answer the questions using examples from the texts that you studied in class. In English and liberal arts courses, one common question is compare/contrast. For example, "compare/contrast how two authors we studied in this course treat the theme of ..." Another type of question could be "give examples of how different writers approach the theory of ____"(fill in the blank) in this course. There's also the "do you agree or disagree" question (you have to give examples from your course reading.

Make your own cheat sheet

See if you can reduce everything in the course to one sheet, or maybe a set of PowerPoints with key points. This takes some doing, but once you are there, then just go over and over this concentrated but condensed version of the course.

Get enough sleep

As you are getting closer to the exam and even the night before, be sure you get enough sleep. No matter how much youthful adrenalin you think you have, or how many energy drinks you consume, I can guarantee you that your brain will NOT perform as well as if you got a good night sleep. You will just not have the same critical agility or mental energy.

Monitor your self talk

A large part of doing well on exam comes from internal programming. Telling yourself you are going to fail can become a self fulfilling prophecy. So can telling yourself you will do well. You may want to use affirmations (statements you make out loud to yourself that something is true).

Exam day tips

  • Come prepared. Assemble a kit of pencils, pens, erasers, whiteout calculators, dictionaries--what ever you need--so you won't have to worry about not putting something down on the page.
  • Come to the exam hall early, so you can pick the best seat.
  • Consider bringing water and chewing gum. These may help calm your nerves.

Once you get your exam paper

  • Take the first few minutes of the exam to plot your strategy. I often see students have a knee jerk reaction upon getting the paper and just start writing. It's better to skim the paper and see where the questions are for the material you know cold. Even if that means starting in the middle, do it. Your momentum and confidence will build for the more challenging questions.
  • Budget your time. Be sure not to over focus on one question. If you get stuck move on quickly and come back to it later. I have seen students sabotage their efforts by tinkering too long with the intro of an essay question.
  • For multiple choice questions where you don't know the answer, take an educated guess, but don't leave it blank. Eliminate obviously wrong answers. But do fill in something.
  • For essay or writing questions, do some pre-writing. Decide what your main point and supporting points are. Jot those down. I have observed students writing exams. Those who did some pre writing, tended to do much better than those that didn't.

To sum up

Keeping in mind some of these suggestions can help you do your best, to work smarter on the final and prevent you from losing marks needlessly.

How To Overcome Test Anxiety When Taking Schools Test and Final Exams

What do you do to over come test taking anxiety

Submit a Comment

No comments yet.


This website uses cookies

As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

Show Details
HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)