Managing anxiety around exams and other assessment activities 

Life at university can be very exciting but, sometimes, as with other situations, it can prompt feelings of anxiety. Engaging in new activities, tackling a different type of assignment, preparing for exams or facing deadlines can make us feel nervous at times. Recognising that there may be times when we feel anxious or overwhelmed is vital, as is considering ways to manage that anxiety.

Managing anxiety around these activities involves:

Organising yourself and your studies is the first step in this process. Engaging with the information available to you will help you to feel on top of things. If you are not sure about something, then ask – there are many sources of help and advice at the University. Don’t be afraid to seek help.

Keeping up to date with assignments and revision activities will help you to manage feelings of anxiety. If deadlines are causing you anxiety, it is important to recognise this and seek advice from your tutors or your Programme Support Officer. Your Learning Developer can also offer advice on managing your time and deadlines.

Creating a weekly timetable of activities, either in the form of a weekly planner for your work or a revision planner can help you to deal with feelings of anxiety. Sometimes your anxiety lies in being unsure about things so knowing where you are and what you need to do will help to increase your feelings of confidence.

Why not check out this example planner (PDF available below). You might want to use ours or perhaps design and create your own. You may also find our module on Time Management useful for organising and prioritising your time. 

Keeping up to date with tasks will help you to reduce feelings of anxiety. This may be preparation in the form of revision for an exam, or practice when preparing a presentation.

It is important to plan and prepare your assignments so that you know you will be able to submit them on time.

Much of the anxiety around exams is fear of the unknown. Finding out about the structure of your exam and working on examples of the types of questions that are likely to come up in your exam will help to alleviate those feelings. Knowing that you can tackle the questions is important, as is becoming familiar with the format of the exams you will be doing.

Similarly, spending time practising a well-prepared presentation will help to reassure you that things will work out on the day. Why not ask a friend to be your audience and offer some feedback?

When working on an assignment, think back to your previous assignments. What helped you to be successful in planning, writing and completing them? Try to focus on past successes in order to inspire positive feelings about your current assignment.

With exams, presentations and assignment deadlines, try to replace thoughts like ‘I can’t...’ with thoughts like that ‘I will try...’.