How to deal with exams anxiety

by Siviwe Zibi

It’s that time of year for again, when matriculants will be sitting for their final exams. The class of 2019 will be writing their exams from 23 October to 28 November. During this time  learners are more likely to suffer from stress and anxiety. This can range from a mild nervous feeling to a full panic attack.


  • Be prepared, ensure you know what is expected from you in the exam and that you have all the notes and books, as well as the best technological resources on hand that you’ll need to study.
  • Give yourself reasonable time for studying, waiting until the night before a test to start studying is likely to spike anxiety. Instead of waiting until the last minute, start studying as soon as a test is scheduled. With several days or even a week to prepare, you will feel more relaxed because you have plenty of time to learn the material.
  • Draw up a schedule to make most of your study time. Set aside as much time as you feel you need; it could be 20 minutes a day, it could be 2 hours a day. You can adjust this if you feel you need more or less time after studying for a few days. Stick to this schedule so when it comes time for the test, you know you’ve prepared as well as possible.
  • Keep all of your notes and schoolwork organised. Being disorganised can make anxiety much worse. You’ll start to panic because you can’t find that one page of notes you need to know, and then lose time looking for it instead of studying. To avoid this problem, keep all of your schoolwork neat and organised.
  • Take breaks while studying. Although you should study as much as you need to, it is possible to overdo it. Spending every minute of the day studying will wreak havoc on your nerves and make anxiety worse. Be sure to factor breaks into your study schedule. Every hour or two, you should take a break for 10 minutes or more.
  • Stay active. Exercise and physical activity are great ways to reduce anxiety. Physical activity releases endorphins that will elevate your mood
  • Eat proper meals regularly, oftentimes students suffering from anxiety have trouble eating and skip meals. Hunger can make your anxiety worse and it will also starve your brain of nutrients and you won’t be able to focus very well. Eat at least three balanced meals every day to keep your strength up.
  • Get plenty of sleep. Sleep deprivation is another cause of anxiety. Commit to getting a full 8 hours of sleep or more every night. This will ensure that your brain has been properly rested and you can start studying with a fresh mind

According to the South African Depression and Anxiety Group (SADAG), 9.5% of teen deaths in South Africa are caused by suicide. One of the triggers could be exam disappointment. There are children who have undiagnosed depression or who undergo a trauma or an experience that makes them more vulnerable, and this can be the final stress that causes them to commit suicide.

SADAG runs a counselling helpline that is open 7 days a week from 8am to 8pm. Concerned parents, teachers or peers can contact a SADAG counsellor toll-free on 0800 21 22 23 or 0800 12 13 14, or SMS 31393.

Good luck to the class of 2019

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