• A comforting handshake

Exam nervousness and anxiety

Exam nervousness

Many students are nervous about exams. A little nervousness is often an advantage, and it will actually help you perform better.

Nervousness helps you to sharpen your senses and be mentally ready to perform.

In other words, nervousness is often a natural, good, biological thing that can help you achieve more.

When nervousness becomes fear

Close-up of a leave


However, some students experience how this positive nervousness can turn into anxiety, which is detrimental to your exam preparation and performance. This can be very stressful, and for some it can hinder the preparation for the exam or even the participation in the exam. Signs of exam anxiety can be both physical and mental:

- headache
- stomach pain
- hear palpitations
- sweaty palms
- loss of appetite
- fatigue
- sleeping difficulties
- concentration difficulties
- sadness

Many different things can cause exam anxiety, and there is no explanation as to why some think it is a breeze to take the exam, while others think it is terribly difficult.

How to handle your anxiety

Flying ballons

Overcoming the exam anxiety

If you experience fear or anxiety in relation to exams, it is important to try to understand where it stems from.
What is it that makes you fear the exam?

Here is a short list of tips you can consider if you experience exam anxiety:

Confront your fear.
Fear thrives in secret. Accept that fear is there, and decide to do something about it.

Be open about it.
Do not be afraid to tell others about your exam anxiety. Talk to the student advisors or a good friend.

Imagine the exam situation.
Think through what is going to happen in the exam. Imagine the room, you sitting there, presenting and talking to the examiners. What scenarios can take place? How can you deal with them?

Get enough sleep and rest.
It is not a good idea to spend the last night before the exam on a last frantic reading. Make sure you are well rested.

Ask clarifying questions.
In the exam situation, do not be afraid to ask questions or make the examiner re-phrase the questions.

Be well-prepared.
The deeper the understanding you have of the course content, the better you remember it. Also, try to connect the new knowledge in the course with what you already know. This way, the knowledge will be integrated, and you will remember it better.

You can always contact the Study and Career Guidance

The study and career guidance team

Get help with handling your exam anxiety

You are always welcome to contact the Study and Career Guidance if you experience troubles with exam nervousness or fear.

Check out these helpful resources as well

We have gathered some links that might be helpful for you to go have a look at.

Blurry nature


Find tools and learn more about anxiety, depression, PTSD, loneliness, sleep, mindfulness and much more

Fog and trees


Has online ressources to strenghten the mental well-being of young people in Denmark. Learn more about anxiety and mindfulness

A thick rope

SPS - special educational support

If you struggle with a physical or mental disability then it could be a good idea to check out if ITU can offer you some extra help.