How does one overcome math/physics exam anxiety?

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Posted on : 10-04-2013 | By : My Study Coach | In : Learn to Relax
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Any advice from people who have been in similar such situations before would be greatly appreciated, expecially those who have already graduated from University.
For some reason, and this has been the case since I was very young, I always seem to become very nervous during math/physics exams and end up doing a lot worse then I know I could. Despite ample studying and a soild understand of the material (as is evidenced by extremely high grades on assignments) I still blank out on exams. Does anyone know of any way to overcome this problem?
As a side question, to those out there who may be teachers, what is the the true purpose of exams? Are they really an accurate judge of a persons abilities, or more a test of how fast they work/how well they deal with stress?
Thanks a lot.

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Comments (12)

deep breaths and don’t eat an hour before the exam…the food wont digest and you’ll get an upset stomach

don’t worry too much, you will be fine if you don’t worry to much. just be well prepared and confident.

the 6 Ps

Proper Preparation Prevents P…. Poor Performance

Study and you won’t be anxious. Exams test your understanding of the material. How could a school graduate someone who didn’t understand the subjects they undertook to learn. Wold you want a surgeon who never demonstrated a knowledge of anatomy? I think not. As the man said, it’s Practice, Practice, Practice.

Don’t cram everything at the last minute, or it will be VERY stressful.
Instead, review small chunks of the material each day. That way, you will feel confident the night before the test, and won’t have to pull an all-nighter. :)

To over come your anxiety is very simple, remember that you already know the information. The night before your exam read the chapters of study ONCE and review your notes ONCE, make sure you get enough sleep and that is it. Being nervous is just going to make you question yourself. Trust yourself and you will do fine. Personally I do much better on my test when I go into an exam like it is any other class and think of the exam as nothing more then a very long pop quiz.

You can’t. Nor should you.

I was a math/physics major until graduate school. (I changed majors for the money. Yeah, I know, it was a mistake.) And I always got the anxiety.

I’d wander through the halls, muttering to myself, “I’m gonna fail this, I hate this course, why didn’t I take woodworking instead, I think I’ll kill myself and save the teacher the trouble…” and worse, for about half an hour before the exam. (Needless to say, this made me really popular with my fellow students.) And – I know, this sounds like a brag, sorry, but – I always did okay.

And the pacing up and down, and wearing my lucky sweater, and the muttering, and not getting a haircut during exam week: they all became rituals (comforting to me, irritating to everyone else). And I sorta made it through school.

But you know what? It’s really not that odd. Think about baseball players on game day. Of course they’re anxious. Nobody criticizes them.

Math/physics tests are indeed stressful. Stay nervous; stay anxious. Don’t try to calm down artificially. Enjoy the stress. When you don’t have exams to write anymore, I guarantee you, you’ll miss the stress.

the only thing that will make you less anxious is to be very well prepared.
and realise that if for any reason you fail the exams IT DOESNT MATTER.when you have done whatever you could and fail its OK

if you havent been well prepared for the exam then its no use crying over spilt milk

i am telling you all these after having given thousands of exams and failed some very important of them.but i always had the strnght and courage to read again and again untill i suceeded.and i always succeeded in the end!
all i want you to realise is that exams arent sooo important and you shouldnt be teriified of them.
you do what you can and what result may come is welcomed!

If you’ve done all the practice problems you can do (like the ones in the book that weren’t assigned), and you understand it perfectly well.

If you’ve done all the homework assigned, and understand every single step, where you may or may not have went wrong, and have thought about different ways they could ask the question that would make it trickier and you understand that as well.

If you’ve read all the material and understand it well.

Then you are as prepared as you can possibly be. Get a great night’s sleep (yeah I know, not always possible), have a satisfying and relaxing breakfast, breath and tell yourself: “I’ve done absolutely everything I can possibly do. I understand the material, and I’m going to do well. If I make a mistake, or if they throw me a curve ball, I will just have to deal with it, no big.” Now go do something that gets your mind off the test until it’s time to take it. Go bowling, study another subject, yoga, rock climbing, video games, go work out, anything that gets you distracted until it’s time.

Just keep telling yourself, “I’ve done my part, it’s all out of my hands now.” over and over again.

One technique to overcome exam stress is to artificially stress yourself beforehand under controlled conditions. The object is to desensitize yourself to the exam conditions. So, set a time and obtain a question set similar to the test (make up your own from homework if no pretest is available). Have conditions physically similar to the exam, if possible, but even more important, try to become as mentally stressed as you usually get for a test. Allow yourself to become tense and worried, think negative thoughts, etc. Recreate for yourself all the negative feelings that cause you to perform less than your best, under the controlled conditions you have set up for yourself (obviously you know it’s not real). Then take the test questions you’ve prepared. Be sure to time yourself. Repeat as necessary. At the very least you’ll get extra practice when you answer your sample “exam” questions. What I found was that the fears and tensions became less important when I was in control, and I was able to be more calm when the actual exam was given. Each time I took the fake test, I was less worried. For me, the effect carried over so I could do my best on exams.

This exercise helped me when I was in danger of giving up my math studies due to poor test performance. All the advice about studying every day, getting enough sleep, etc, is good too but some folks need more. Good luck!

Study….yes but how? This worked well for me. When you work a problem and you have struggled through it…after a while you get it right…..most students simply move on to the next problem. Instead work the same problem again…and again until your mind solves it reflexively. Work it again and solve it faster……work it again and solve it even faster. When you cant write fast enough to keep up with your mind…..you are ready top move to the next problem. Remember: Success breeds Confidence which breeds success which breeds confidence.

K-Mart mannequins are a better approximation of a human being than an hour exam is an approximation of real life.

First and foremost, know the material well. Second, relax, there is nothing to be nervous about when taking an exam, you will either pass or fail. Before taking the exam, do not try to cram in the final hours. This just adds to the anxiety factor. Get plenty of rest, have a cold beer, and git-r-done!!

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