What Are the Causes of Exam Stress?

by Cindy Roussos

External Pressure

Many students feel pressured because of expectations of family members or teachers. They want to do their best work so that they do not let anyone down with their performance. This pressure to do well can heighten exam stress. Also, if a student is working toward a scholarship or particular academic goal, performing well on a test will be of paramount importance. Students may perceive themselves to be in competition with others, and the competition may heighten their anxiety levels.

Internal Pressure

The pressure to perform well and succeed doesn't just have to come from a student's family; instead, the student may apply the pressure to himself. If the student wants to be the very best, a poor performance on a test may be a great fear. If the student spends too much time thinking about how difficult the exam is and worrying about the outcome of the test, this negative approach will increase exam stress.

Lack of Preparation

When students do not feel that they have properly covered the material, feelings of nervousness and anxiety will sweep over them as they walk into the exam room. Students should study well in advance of the test and not wait until the last moment to prepare for an exam. Rushed, last-minute studying will increase anxiety. Students who do not sleep properly before an exam may also experience higher stress levels.

About the Author

Based in the Deep South, Cindy Roussos has been a full-time writer since 2004. Her work has appeared in such print publications as "Chicken Soup for the Soul" and online at websites such as FamilyTravelFun.com. Roussos graduated summa cum laude with a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of South Alabama.

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