Exam Phobia: A Threat that Could be Vanquished

What is Exam Phobia?

Phobia, in its simplest terms, is a fear towards a certain phenomenon which tends to vary from person to person. Phobia can be diagnosed as uncontrollable anxiety in relation to heights, exams, needles, animals, sounds, visual elements. It’s an extreme, irrational fear. Some would define it as a mental disorder too. In the modern world, among many other phobias, some become victims of a rare kind of phobia called “Exam Phobia”. A person affected with this phobia finds it harder to face various kinds of examinations.


Causes of Exam Phobia

Fear of failure is one of the main causes of this fear. And this is not only arising internally but from the external environment too. Strict parents, who force children to pass examinations and society, are some of the external factors. And with the increase of competitiveness in standard testing methods, we may see an increase in those numbers in the near future.

In some countries, people do not pay serious attention on one’s mental health. In countries like ours, examinations play a critical role as they determine the success of the citizens. Hence, competitiveness always comes before collaboration.

This is also known as the “Test Anxiety”. It is a type of performance anxiety, where people can become anxious that they won’t perform their best.

Symptoms of Exam Phobia

Emotional symptoms such as self-doubt, fear, stress, anger and physical symptoms such as sweating, rapid heartbeat, shortness of breath can be seen in people who are affected by this phobia prior to an examination. These symptoms can affect the overall performance of an affected person. Panic attacks are also commonly seen among the people facing this fear.


So this fear might be more common around students in third-world countries, than in more developing countries.

Accordingly, people with this fear may face anxiety in a very intense and severe manner. Between 10 to 40 percent of students seem to be facing this disorder thus, emphasizing on the need to detect ways to overcome this anxiety.

How to Overcome Exam Phobia?

The main way to overcome this fear is to avoid being a perfectionist. Instead of being perfect at everything, we must learn to accept failures as well because no one is exceptional in everything.

Everyone has their own strengths and weaknesses, and that’s what makes us all unique and human. You should not have a mindset, where you believe that, you should get higher marks for every single subject you do. Despite what society says, it destroys you internally. It’s okay to not be good at one subject, because we’re humans and not computers or robots. Therefore, we should avoid being perfect and we should be the best at what we love and good at.


The other strategy you should implement to get rid of this fear is to be positive or optimistic. We should banish our negative thoughts away. If you keep thinking that you can’t do it, or you’re not good enough, you should throw those negative thoughts away and be positive. It would help you build up more confidence, which could lead to passing of the examinations.


Another more common way to calm down is to take deep breaths. This method helps in the case of other fears or anxiety disorders too. Inhale deeply through your nose and exhale through your mouth. Focus on one question at a time. Do not get overwhelmed.


In conclusion, if you’re struggling with “Test Anxiety or Exam Phobia”, try the above methods to lower your anxiety levels, and if you’re still struggling, visit therapy. And remember, you shouldn’t be good at everything. It’s okay to be bad at something. It’s okay to do mistakes. It’s okay to fail.


 “Mistakes are what makes us human”                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                -Home movie directed by Tim Johnson-

  Written by Ravija Sejan (Grade 11N)

 Gampaha Branch