How To Cope With Test Anxiety

It’s that time of year again when exams are right around the corner for university and college students. This time is usually quite difficult for most students; however, it can be increasingly so for students who experience test anxiety. Some test anxiety is normal, and it can actually be beneficial to experience some anxiety before taking a test [1]. The issues arise when individuals experience too much or very little anxiety. When an individual experiences too much anxiety it interferes with one’s concentration and/or performance. Test anxiety is a type of performance anxiety that tends to occur before a test. Some signs that you may be experiencing test anxiety would be stomach-ache, rapid heartbeat, headache, overproduction of sweat, or even feeling like you may pass out or throw up [2]. This physical reaction caused by the anticipation of a future stressor, is known as the fight or flight response. Additionally, an over focus on negative thoughts or negative outcomes can further contribute to an increase in anxiety and negatively affect the outcome on performance. This can turn into a vicious cycle whereby physical sensations and negative thought patterns cause one to do poorly on tests, which will then cause one to have anxiety before future tests, increasing the chance of doing poorly on the next test [1].

There are several things that can be done to manage these feelings of test anxiety. Here are some examples on how to cope with test anxiety: being prepared, being mindful of your thoughts, realizing that everyone makes mistakes and seeking help [1, 2]. Building good study habits are important and allow you to develop a deeper understanding of the material. The more that you know the material, the more confident it allows you to feel and going into a test with a large amount of confidence allows you to feel like you will do well, which then allows you to relax.

Additionally, it is important to monitor your thoughts [1,2]. By replacing these thoughts with positive ideas such as “I went to class, and studied hard, I am ready to do the best I can”, you will help to ease your stress. Everyone makes mistakes, and it is important to remember that you are not alone. These mistakes are just learning opportunities that allow you to see ways in which you can improve for the next time.

Lastly, if you feel as if you are unable to manage this anxiety on your own, you do not have to [1,2]. You can seek out help from others. At the Therapy Centre, we have trained clinicians who can assess and treat Anxiety Disorders. We work collaboratively with our clients to provide the appropriate treatment. Cognitive-Behavioural Therapy (CBT) and mindfulness-based therapy can be effective treatments for test anxiety. With two offices located in Oakville and Hamilton, we are accessible from Mississauga, Milton, Halton Hills, Guelph Wellington and the greater Niagara Region.


(1) – Hoffses, K. (Ed.). (2018, July). Test Anxiety (for Teens). Retrieved from

(2) – Anxiety and Depression Association of America. (n.d.). Test Anxiety. Retrieved from