Have you ever felt just before an exam or a test that you can`t remember any dates, figures or names you diligently studied throughout your coursework? Your mind becomes blank, you can`t gather your thoughts, you experience nausea, your legs start to shake, and all you want to do is to run away? Or maybe you felt so terrified before an exam that you couldn’t study properly or revise?
If you answered `Yes` to one or more of the above questions you might be suffering from exam phobia, defined as irrational, overwhelming, excessive and uncontrollable fear or dislike of exams.
Everyone get nervous before or during exams. While experiencing fear can be a positive thing as it can motivate you to harder work, phobia on the other hand is an amplified terror that has a negative impact on your life. Phobia makes your life very difficult as you do everything to avoid or `survive` a feared situation. In this state you can’t access your full potential and achieve the results you deserve.
Exam phobia is very similar to a fear of public speaking.
So how can you recognise a phobia? What is the meaning of phobia? Can you cure exam phobia?
Let`s say you are a good student who has been studying diligently throughout the year. You are ambitious, you know that this exam is important, you want to pass. There may be also pressure from your parents who want you (that is their beloved child) to be the best. You want to be the best too and you don’t want to disappoint your parents. Prior to exam you experience physical symptoms like insomnia, stomach cramps or diarrhea. You may not be able to eat or you eat too much. You start to wonder whether you are good enough to pass an exam. Your confidence goes down. You start to believe you may fail. You imagine all the negative consequences. You become nervous. You feel overwhelmed. You feel down. You start sweating or maybe experience headaches. You begin to wonder whether there is a point in revising if you are going to fail anyway.
At this point the fact that during the course you proved that you understand the subject and can discuss it with insight and intelligence becomes irrelevant. You become so anxious that you start panicking, your mind goes blank, your heart start pounding, fear becomes so overwhelming that you can’t breathe. During the exam you don`t remember well known facts, figures, names or dates. You can’t summon up any of the facts or make any sort of argument or coherent discussion.
You may know on a rational level that an exam is not a death sentence. It is just an assessment to see how well you understood a certain subject and how good your teachers have been in providing certain knowledge to you. You have performed your duty by studying for the exam and there are no consequences to be feared if you can’t answer all the questions and even if you fail you can always repeat the exam. All of this does not matter if you suffer from exam phobia.
However, I have good news for you. Phobias are quite common (there is nothing to be ashamed of) and highly treatable. It is possible to cure phobia so I strongly encourage you to look for help.
Imagine how your life would look like without your exam phobia.