Testophobia is strong anxiety that leads to failure by hampering the effective application of prior knowledge during examination. Certain physical, emotional and psychological symptoms accompany this anxiety.

While a regular level of anxiety may be beneficial in terms of motivation, taking decisions, generating the energy in accordance with decisions taken and increasing performance, anxiety experienced strongly hinders the person from channeling his/her attention and energy into the task at hand. The actual feeling before an exam is usually excitement. It is important to know that this feeling is natural and is in fact necessary for success, and not let it turn into anxiety.

There may be several causes for testophobia, some of which are:

  • Thinking that this particular exam is the most important exam of one’s life
  • Ascribing too much important to the exam
  • Very high expectations of the family, teachers and even the student him/herself
  • Previous negative examination experience and the idea that failure will recur
  • Expectations and fantasies of a negative outcome of the exam

Furthermore, lack of timely and adequate preparation or revising, malnutrition, sleep deprivation, fatigue and inability to use time efficiently during examination may all contribute to the anxiety.

Many strategies may be employed to combat testophobia.

Firstly, it is important that the student change unrealistic expectations and interpretations in his/her mind. For example, a statement such as “I will do my best to get a good result.” instead of “I will fail this exam too, everyone will think I am unintelligent.” will help the student view the situation more realistically.

Good preparation for the exam, adequate rest, correct breathing, and relaxation exercises such as muscle relaxation may help control the anxiety. However, if anxiety is very high, it is important to get professional help before the exam.