How to Stay Calm While Taking an Exam

Have you ever had that sudden urge to go visit the restroom just before taking an exam? Or have you perhaps experienced uneasiness and a sudden raise of heart rate while waiting for the examiner to arrive? These are common sights amongst students when taking an exam and it is often unavoidable as the pressure and burden an exam carries is much more prevalent than simple quizzes.

While these events are unavoidable and will come at least once in every student’s life, there are certain procedures which can enable you to remain calm and composed while taking an exam.

Importance of remaining calm

There are heaps of benefits when you stay calm during exams. For one, you can focus better on the questions presented to you and you will be able to comprehend the question better. You will also have better memory retention when you are calm and composed while taking an exam as you can limit the activity of the part of the brain that thinks up of unnecessary and irrelevant things.

You can also have better judgement on the choices you make during exams as you are able to clearly comprehend the questions presented to you. Avoiding any unnecessary mistakes due to poor judgement is also one of the perks for remaining calm during exams which could save you both time and effort.

Tips on how to remain calm when taking an exam

Although calmness during exams is a skill which needs a few trials to get used to, there are certain methods to achieve results on your first few trials.

Know your topics

One of the best ways to remain calm during exams is to familiarize and understand the topics to be answered. By having knowledge and understanding of what you are dealing with, you can have a general sense of what questions might occur and thus give you a sense of safety and security as you are familiar with what till be inside the examination sheets.

By simply knowing your topic, you gain the confidence that you will somehow get through the exam. Confidence is important when you are trying to remain calm during exams and what better source of confidence than knowing that you are familiar and well versed in the topics to be tested. A battle in which you do not know the enemy is a battle lost.

If you however, have difficulties familiarizing and understanding your topic, then it would be advisable to ask others for help understanding the topics to be tested. And what better way to understand topics you have trouble with than by hiring a tutor from FamilyTutor. FamilyTutor is a home tuition agency in Singapore with thousands of highly skilled and qualified home tutors ready to teach individuals from pre-school to university level. We offer courses on different subjects as well such as Sciences and its various branches, Mathematics, and a variety of languages ranging from English to Hindi. We make sure our prices are at market value or lower to offer the best yet affordable online tutoring service out there.

Get enough rest

Something often overlooked by students is to get enough rest before the day of the examinations. This often results to the inability to stay calm and focused as the brain needs at least 7 hours of rest in order for it to function properly and have sound judgement. If you exclude lack of sleep from the equation, then the chances of you staying calm during exams will increase as well.

Lack of enough sleep can often lead to loss of focus, slower memory retention, and a less competent brain. Not getting enough rest can also lead to a more irritable personality which may all add up to cause you disorientation and confusion during examinations. This may inhibit your ability to stay calm and thus, must be taken care of immediately by sleeping adequately before the day of the examination.

Eat a proper meal

A tank needs fuel to move, and just like a tank, you also need fuel to function properly. The brain uses up to 20% of your daily calorie intake which is why you need to eat a proper meal before the exams. It will allow you to focus on your answer sheet without having to constantly think about your rumbling stomach. This, in turn, helps you remain calm and composed as there is one less unnecessary distraction from the equation.

Psych yourself up

Nothing beats a positive mind set when taking an exam. And using that mind set to psych you up will increase your chances of not getting cold feet. Motivate yourself and constantly remind yourself that you can do it. This will boost your confidence and give you more room to make ethical decisions when answering your exams. It also eliminates a majority of the negative thoughts which may cause panic and unease during exams.

Get to the venue early

If you want to be sure to remain calm before, during, and after the exams then you can opt to go to the exam venue earlier than expected to do some last-minute skimming. While too much last-minute skimming may cause unnecessary unease due to the event of you forgetting a few topics, this is still a great way to reassure yourself that you have most of the topics covered. This will enable you to become calmer and make sound judgement when taking exams.

Take slow and deep breathes every now and then

While waiting for the examiner, try taking a few deep breathes every now and then to relax you. Taking deep and slow breathes is a technique which enables you to supply your muscles and brain with more oxygen, thus allowing your muscles to relax and your brain to become more functional. This can also limit the chances of you having an increased heart rate due to too much stress and will in turn lead to you becoming calmer.

This method can also be incorporated when you are currently answering your exam sheets as well. If you encounter a question you are not familiar with, then stop for a moment and take slow, deep breathes, then reread the question to see if you are completely unfamiliar with the question or was it just a trick question set up by your examiner. Taking deep ad slow breathes enables you to remain calm and make sound decisions which is a valuable asset when taking exams.

Don’t hesitate to start

Once the examiner gives the “Go” signal, then don’t hesitate to start answering the exam questions as delaying to answer will only lead to unnecessary overthinking and prevent you from becoming calm. Overthinking is one of the primary causes of panic during exams and you will have an even harder time starting the exam the more time you spend overthinking about it.

Read the questions carefully

Reading the questions carefully is often overlooked when taking exams as there are time limits during exams and students often prefer to read the questions as quickly as they can in order for them to submit their answer sheets on time. However, in the event of you trying your best to stay calm while taking an exam, it would not hurt to take a few extra seconds to read the questions carefully.

Unfamiliar and unanswered questions are common causes of disorientation and panic when answering examinations. This can be overcome by taking a steady approach and trying to understand the questions at hand. if you can overcome that really difficult question by realizing the trick to answer it, then you would have the confidence that you can answer most of the questions left, thus giving you confidence and allowing you to stay calm during exams.

Focus on your own paper

The last tip we can give you to remain calm is to focus on your own paper and not mind what the other people in your class are busy with. Focus on understanding and finishing the questions presented before you and dismiss any irrelevant distractions that try to keep you from focusing. Once you are in your “zone” you can stay calm and make better judgement.

Do not mind the confused and weary faces of your seatmates and on which part of the exam they are having difficulties with, as this can often lead to a domino effect of confusion. If you simply focus on what is in front of you then you can increase the chances of you staying calm all throughout the exam.

Real life applications of staying calm

You may think that staying calm during exams is a one-time thing, but practice it well enough and you may adapt it into your daily life as an adult later on. Staying calm can help us make better and more ethical decisions in life and in academics. By utilizing what you have learned here, you can also gain the ability to remain calm even under pressure as you can use the feeling of stress and pressure in the examination hall to your advantage.

You can remain calm while in a meeting with your higher ups which would dictate if you will be promoted or not. You can remain calm while having a debate with another student who is more knowledgeable in the debate topic. You can remain calm while presenting your thesis to the panel composed of well-known and renowned individuals.

These are just a few examples of what you can do if you practice staying calm when under a lot of pressure. These scenarios may seem far off from just staying calm while taking an exam, but they all share the same fundamental scenario – an event which can dictate your success in the future. And staying calm during these events can increase your chances of success significantly.



Carelle is a teacher who has been through the ups and downs of the teacher and learner life. She wishes for every learner to gain educational satisfaction that will help embody the people they want to be in the future.

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