How to Overcome Test Anxiety and Face the Exams Calmly

By Shang Jing, Malaysia

Editor’s note: Many people may have had this experience—exam nerves. Even those students who often get excellent grades and have comparatively good psychological qualities inevitably perform poorly because of nerves in the exams. However, the author of this article, a student who was always bottom of the class and regarded exams with dread, found the secret of being not nervous and coming up trumps in the exams. The following contents describe his complete experience from preparing for the exams to finishing them.

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April 10, 2018, Tuesday, Cloudy

After getting up this morning, I, as usual, took a shower and hurriedly ate something, and then I sat at my desk and started to study for my next month’s exams. When I gazed at the pile of materials for my revision, my mind went blank. Rather than saying I was reviewing my lessons, it would be better to say I was trying hard to pass the time. Because even if I had reviewed those materials, I still couldn’t remember them.

Since I was little, I had always been bottom of the class. Every year when the exams are approaching, I’m most nervous and worried. As soon as I arrived in the examination room, my hands would tremble constantly. Only after I held my pen with my two hands and calmed myself down could I begin to do those questions. This year’s exams are the final ones and also the most crucial ones during my college years. If I do badly in the exams, not only will I not find a job but all these years of tuition fees will also go down the drain. How should I face the following days? Alas! I can’t worry about that. I have to review what I can.

April 15, 2018, Sunday, Cloudy to Sunny

As the days of my exams came nearer, I pondered whether I needed to cancel several gatherings, so that I could devote my mind and body to my revision.

Today, I told a sister my worries about the exams. Once she became aware of my situation, she sent me two articles about brothers’ and sisters’ experiences and testimonies. I read the following passage of God’s words quoted in the articles, “Since the creation of the world I have begun to predestine and select this group of people, namely, you today. Your temperament, caliber, appearance, stature, family in which you were born, your job and your marriage, the entirety of you, even the color of your hair and your skin, and the time of your birth were all arranged by My hands. Even the things you do and the people you meet every single day are arranged by My hands, not to mention the fact that bringing you into My presence today is actually My arrangement. Do not throw yourself into disorder; you should proceed calmly.” I thought: Right. God is the Creator and all things and all beings are in His hands. What questions I will face in the exams and what kind of job I will find in the future are all in His hands. They can’t be controlled by me or up to my choice. All of these things are God’s rule and arrangements. So all I should do is proceed calmly. God’s words also say, “You must have faith that everything is in God’s hands, and that humans are merely coordinating with Him. If you are sincere, God will see it and He will open up all paths for you, making difficulties no longer difficult. You must be confident in this. Therefore, you needn’t worry about anything. As long as you use all your strength and use all your heart.…” God’s words gave me faith and pointed a practical path for me to walk. Yes. No matter what difficult problems I will be faced with in the exams and whether I have reviewed them, I just need to do all I can, and meanwhile I must learn to rely on and look up to God in the exams. I believe that He will guide me and open up the way for me.

Thinking of this, I felt greatly relieved; the pressure that had been in my heart was reduced. Therefore, I handed my exams over to God. Then I reviewed my lessons normally and asked God to guide and lead me to experience the exams.

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May 2, 2018, Wednesday, Sunny

Thinking that it was the day of exam today after getting up this morning, I could not help but grow nervous, and even my feet were weak. Going downstairs, I saw the breakfast my father bought for me; however, I didn’t have any appetite. I wanted to force myself to have some. But, since I had my exams on the brain, which made my heart feel heavy and nervous, I finally just ate a bite and then put it aside.

When my father drove me on the way to the examination room, my mind spun ceaselessly, “What exam questions I will face today? Can I handle them?” The more I thought about that, the more nervous I felt. Consequently, I prayed to God in silence, asking Him to quiet my heart. When I arrived in the examination room, there were three hours before the exam started. Seeing that my classmates seemed to have a lot of faith about the exam, I couldn’t help but become anxious and my hands started to tremble. I repeatedly prayed to God in my heart, “God, I’m unable to predict today’s exam questions. I’m willing to rely on You to do my utmost.”

The exam began. When an examiner put the exam papers on my desk, I skimmed through the exam questions, only to find that they were more unexpected than before. They were totally different from the ones that everyone had predicted. My heart was hammering and I thought, “It’s really over for me this time. What can be done?” At that moment, I thought of brothers’ and sisters’ experiences and testimonies: When they were faced with difficulties, they prayed to and rely on God, finally seeing His deeds. Yeah. It is recorded in the Bible, “The fear of Jehovah is the beginning of wisdom: and the knowledge of the holy is understanding” (Proverbs 9:10). The wisdom came from God, so I must rely on and look up to Him. Thereupon, I quickly cried out to God in my heart, “Oh God, these questions are so unexpected. Now I have no idea what to do. May You guide me and quite my heart, so that I’m able to treat the exam calmly.” After I prayed, my heart calmed down a lot. When I carefully examined these questions again, I suddenly found a question which I had just reviewed. As I stilled my heart and considered it seriously, my train of thought was increasingly clear unknowingly. When quieting down before God, I no longer felt restless or nervous, and during the whole process of sitting the exam, I was very relaxed. In the end, I finished all of the exam questions calmly.

When I walked out of the room and checked my answers with my classmates’, I learned that all of them who were always good at reviewing hadn’t reviewed this question. I was very surprised, and I silently thanked God in my heart. I really was a lucky dog. On my way home, I was in a jolly mood.

Today’s exam allows me to understand that it is very important to rely on and look up to God in everything I encounter. When I encountered situations and was at a loss, only by praying to God could I feel very calm and have a path to take. Although I don’t know whether my result is good or bad, I have come up trumps in this exam.

May 16, 2018, Wednesday, Cloudy

Today, I was going to sit my second exam. This subject was comparatively easy for me, and in addition I had studied the subject hard, so I thought I was able to deal with the exam. Unwittingly, I became lax and didn’t pray to God for this. As a result, I walked into the examination room confidently.

However, on seeing the exam papers, I was dumbfounded since I found those questions were very unfamiliar to me, which caused me to become nervous. But, I soon told myself with confidence that no matter how unfamiliar the questions are, I must have reviewed the knowledge involved in them. Then, I started to rely on my brain to answer them. But somehow, one minute I felt the answers were familiar, and the next minute I was equivocal about them, and my thought became more and more unclear. Seeing that the time passed one second and one minute at a time, I became increasingly agitated. I had no time to consider those problems carefully, so I could only answer them based on feelings. After I finished the exam papers, even I felt the answers were without structure or order.

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Stepping out of the examination room, I was particularly disheartened. Just then, my sister sent me a message and asked me how my exam was. I told her what happened in the exam. After she learned of that, she comforted me and told me that no matter how the result was, I should adjust my own attitude through praying to God and that I shouldn’t allow the next exam to be affected. Later on, she sent me a passage of God’s words, “Oh, the corrupt ones! You must come to rely on Me today; if you do not, today I shall tell you that you will never achieve anything! All shall be in vain and your undertakings shall be worthless!” And she said to me, “In Proverbs 16:18 it says, ‘Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.’ We always believe that we are competent and that we can solve the problems by our own ability, without needing to pray to and rely on God. This is a corrupt disposition of arrogance and self-conceitedness. In fact, the more arrogant a person is, the more likely he is prone to fail. Because he believes too much in himself. He can’t calm himself down to seek and consider more when things happen, but he does them by himself, so it will be easy for him to fail.” Hearing her fellowship, I realized that as it turned out, the reason why I failed in the exam was that I didn’t rely on God due to being controlled by the arrogant disposition. I thought I had reviewed my lessons well and gotten ready, so there was no problem doing those questions. As a result, I took this exam lightly and forgot myself. Even though I encountered problems, I still didn’t pray to or rely on God but chose to believe in myself. Comparatively speaking, though the exam questions were unexpected last time and I didn’t review my lessons well, when I relied on and looked up to God to try my best, I saw His guidance. This time, when I thought the exam was under my control based on my arrogant disposition, the outcome was very unfortunate. This exam makes me distinctly aware that the greatest wisdom is to rely on and look upon God and that if I rely on myself, I will never achieve anything!

May 18, 2018, Friday, Sunny

I felt that today’s exam was the most difficult for me. Besides, I just spent one day doing some revision for it and I only took a few notes. So, I really had no assurance at all. At that point, I thought of my previous experience: When I came before God, relied on and looked upon Him, I saw His guidance; moreover, God gave me intelligence and wisdom, making me have a clear mind in the face of the exam questions. When I thought of this, I prayed to God and then quieted my heart to face the exam calmly. In that moment, I didn’t worry whether I would encounter unexpected problems, but instead I was only willing to do my best to finish them.

The exam began. When I finished half of the papers, I suddenly found I forgot a very important answer to the title. At that moment, I was so nervous that my head was completely blank. I thought, “I actually forget the title. How do I continue to do this question?” I stopped and lifted my head and looked around. The whole room was perfectly quiet and the classmates around me were all doing the exam questions. I felt both nervous and worried, with the result that my hands were sweating and my heart was jumping. I breathed deeply and told myself to calm down. If I was so nervous, I wouldn’t think of the answer. After calming down for a while, I thought of God’s words, “The heart and spirit of man are held in the hand of God, and all the life of man is beheld in the eyes of God. Regardless of whether or not you believe this, any and all things, living or dead, will shift, change, renew, and disappear according to God’s thoughts. This is how God rules over all things.” I secretly told myself, “God is almighty and wise. All I can do is rely on Him. As long as God enlightens, guides, and inspires me, everything will become very easy and I will have a way to solve any problems.” Therefore, I called to God in my heart, “God, because I didn’t do enough revision for the exam, I don’t know how to answer this question now. I pray You to lead and guide me, so that I have good psychological qualities to face it.” After I finished praying, I took a deep breath, adjusting my attitude and relaxing myself. When I calmed down and considered it carefully, the answer came to my mind unexpectedly. Although I couldn’t remember the complete title, I recalled its meaning so that I could express it in another way. Therefore, I quickly did the questions while I had a clear mind.

After I handed in my examination papers, my frame of mind was especially at ease. Through this exam, I once again experienced that God is the Lord of everything. Without His enlightenment, under the aura of tension, I wouldn’t have been able to suddenly come up with the answer in such a short time and to gain much more clarity in my thinking. God really is almighty and practical!

May 24, 2018, Thursday, Sunny

Today, I was going to take the final exam. Due to my previous experiences, I wasn’t so nervous.

Walking into the examination room, I sat down and entrusted this exam to God: No matter whether I had reviewed these questions, I would try my best to do them. The examiner gave out the papers. After I looked through them, I felt very calm inside. Because I had reviewed some of the questions and I still had some recollection of four of them. Although I didn’t do extra revision before the exam, to my surprise, I, in the exam, used all I had reviewed. I knew it was God who had opened up this way out for me, so I silently gave thanks to Him. Subsequently, the exam went very smoothly.

In the past, I just verbally acknowledged that God rules over everything, but my heart never confirmed this truth. So, I always had question marks hanging over God’s authority. However, the thing I did most was praying to God during exams this year. Because of praying to and relying on God, I truly saw God was at my side guiding me. When I was nervous and scared, He guided and led me and gave me confidence, so that I could be quiet in front of Him; when I encountered some difficult problems in the exams, God gave me intelligence and wisdom, so that I could tackle them with ease. Now, I can finally face the exams calmly. Thanks be to God. All the glory be to Him!

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