Exam anxiety can easily throw you off before an exam. 

Second-guessing, over-analysing and catastrophising, students can easily work themselves into balls of nervous stress before they even enter the exam room!

Here are some simple steps to balance yourself before an exam and help prevent exam anxiety. 

Step 1: Check, check, double check

Make sure to pack your bag the night before with anything and everything you need; pens, calculators, food, an extra jumper, you name it!

By packing the night before it makes it easier for you in the morning to simply check your bag when you wake up and again before you leave the house it’s always good to double check, just to make sure you didn’t miss anything.

This helps give you a sense of control and balance from the get go.

Step 2: The more the merrier

Always pack double when it comes to exam equipment!

If your ruler breaks or your calculator decides to die on the last page of your maths exam you’ll have a spare you can grab right away, rather than having to borrow one from the supervisors. Plus, you won’t get anxious about the possibility of one breaking.

Pro tip: you can never have enough blue or black pens. Pack 5, pack 10, whatever gives you peace of mind knowing you’ll always have a few spare.

Step 3: Keep looking forward

When it comes time to put the study notes down and get ready for the exam, only think towards the future – consider possible exam questions or how you plan to split up the time for your exam.

Don’t think about past things like ‘I didn’t study enough’ or ‘I wish I’d borrowed those study notes my friend offered me’ – these things are in the past, there’s nothing you can do about them now, and they’ll only stress you out.

A great way to manage exam anxiety is with a pre-exam ritual!

Step 4: Band together

If you work well in a group, set up to meet with friends an hour or two before the exam to do some last minute quizzing.

The social interaction will help distract you from anything that might make you panic, and being with people who are feeling the same exam anxiety can help you balance each other out by reassuring one another.

Plus you can use study cards to do some rapid-fire study and help fill in any blank spots in each other’s knowledge!

Step 5: Plan it out

Don’t give your brain time to wander down the panic path – instead focus on planning how you’ll tackle the exam.

Calculate how much time you want to spend on each section, what order you want to do the questions in, if you want to hit the essay first or start on multiple choice and how best to manage your time.

This helps you feel well-prepared, gives you a sense of control and distracts you from any anxiety.

Step 6: Reality check

Waiting to go into the exam room seems like waiting at the gallows sometimes, but remember to have a last minute reality check before you walk through those doors.

Remind yourself that this exam isn’t the be all and end all, the world won’t end if something goes wrong and you’re going to feel a thousand times better the second you walk out of the room.

If all else fails, just look at all the other nervous people around you – you’re definitely not the only one with exam anxiety, and you’re not alone.

Looking for some extra help with your HSC exam skills?

We pride ourselves on our inspirational HSC coaches and mentors!

We offer tutoring and mentoring for Years K-12 in a variety of subjects, with personalised lessons conducted one-on-one in your home or at our state of the art campus in Hornsby!

To find out more and get started with an inspirational tutor and mentor get in touch today!

Give us a ring on 1300 267 888, email us at info@artofsmart.com.au or check us out on Facebook!


Maddison Leach completed her HSC in 2014, achieving an ATAR of 98.00 and Band 6 in all her subjects. Having tutored privately for two years before joining Art of Smart, she enjoys helping students through the academic and other aspects of school life, even though it sometimes makes her feel old. Maddison has had a passion for writing since her early teens, having had several short stories published before joining the world of blogging. She’s currently studying a Bachelor of Design at the University of Technology Sydney and spends most of her time trying not to get caught sketching people on trains.