Top reasons behind exam phobia suffered by students

Do you have exam phobia? Exam phobia is the fear of examination that is faced by many students. This article explains various causes behind that fear which can be a lack of preparation, fear of failure, too much pressure and negative beliefs.


As the exams approach, students spend sleepless nights. Worries take the form of anxiety in them taking a toll on their physical as well as mental well-being. However, exam phobia is not an uncommon condition. It is experienced by almost everyone. The only difference is some students face it very frequently and intensely whereas others face it only during important exams. Exam phobia can be termed as fear of exams. Some students are extremely nervous around exam time. This kind of nervousness does not let them prepare and perform to the best of their ability. There are plenty of reasons for students to create this kind of fear around examinations. It is important to determine the underlying cause so that this deep-rooted fear can be removed from them. Some parents will feel that it is beneficial to have a little fear in their kids so that they will remain motivated to study harder. However, it is a kind of myth. It is because nervousness does not allow a person to perform better but detriments the performance. Also, this kind of conditioning that is happening in childhood or at an early age will get deeply inherited in them. These kids when will grow up create the same kind of fear and nervousness before every important event in their lives. Thus, it is important to eliminate exam phobia from students. This article explains various causes because of which students suffer from exam fever.

Common causes for students to suffer from exam phobia

Too many expectations

Today the values behind pursuing education are changed drastically. A few decades before, education was considered a means to gain knowledge and wisdom. Today, parents want their kids to excel and be ahead of everyone right from their first year of school. They inculcate competitiveness in them to prepare them for the rat race that they need to face later in their lives. Today parents are pressurizing their kids with lots of expectations so that they can pursue the career of their choice and fulfil their dreams. On the other hand, teachers too are very demanding. In the classrooms exists favouritism. Students who are good in their studies become teachers' favourites and also have to bear the expectations to fare well in every exam. The level of expectations increases when parents are spending lots of money to provide them with the best education. Whether it is bringing them online study material or enrolling them in private tuition, parents are spending too much on their kids so that they can come up with flying colours. These expectations create anxiety in students and lead to exam fear. They are scared of disappointing everyone around them whether it may be their parents, teachers or friends.

Lack of preparation

The most common cause for students to suffer from exam phobia is a lack of preparation. Those students who do not prepare themselves for the entire year thinking that they have enough time for the preparation will find themselves in a bad situation as the exam approaches. Their laziness makes them procrastinate their studies. A few days or weeks before exams when they begin studying, they will realize that they have too much to cover and too little time left to do the same. They will not be able to cover the entire syllabus. They appear for the exams covering some contents from here and there. This kind of preparation does not instil any confidence in them, unlike those students who do not fear exams because they are well prepared for every question that would be asked in the exam papers. Thus, students who did not study and prepare themselves to face exams in turn face a lot of anxiety and nervousness during exam times.

Phobia of failure in students

Exam phobia is very much related to a phobia of failure to score passing marks. When students are scared that they might not be able to pass one or more papers or will fail in scoring the minimum total percentage required to get promoted to the next class, they suffer from restlessness. The mere thought of getting failed and getting retained in the same class whereas their other batch mates getting promoted to the higher class brings anxiety to them. Fear of failure does not only mean failing to score minimum marks but also fear of disappointing parents, teachers, friends and everyone who is expecting them to get promoted to a higher class. Fear of failure does not only mean not scoring passing marks but also not scoring marks that others are expecting from them.

Past experiences of students

Some students study well and are well-prepared for the examination. Yet, they suffer from exam phobia. It is because in the past they might have scored fewer marks or failed to score passing marks. Their fears do not let them trust their present abilities and current preparation. They are scared to fail again. They feel that despite all the preparation, something will go wrong and they will not be able to perform well in their examinations. This kind of fear shakes self-confidence. Low self-esteem does not allow them to perform well no matter how hard they have studied and how well they have prepared. Sometimes this nervous energy that they carry in their examination centre makes them commit silly mistakes and score very less even if they knew all the answers. They will end up scoring very fewer marks despite the paper being very easy.

Lack of regular revisions

Some students regularly learn the contents. They are punctual. They listen to the lectures. They prepare notes. They learn everything that is taught to them in their classes. However, the only mistake that they commit is that they do not revise what they have learnt. Later, when the exam approaches, they need to pay heavily for their mistake. It is because the majority of what they learnt is forgotten by them. After all, they did not regularly revise what they learnt. Thus, they have to once again spend time and energy relearning what they have learnt. This will cause panic in students as within very little time they have to once again go through their entire syllabus. These students create exam fear because of the disappointment they have caused themselves. When they witness their entire effort wasted, it shakes their confidence level. This will lower self esteem and cause anxiety in them.

Negative beliefs cause exam phobia

Some students create exam fear because of the negative thinking patterns they have adopted in their lives. They associate exams with fear and thus, as exam approaches, they will naturally fear them. They feel that no matter how well they have prepared, they will not be able to score well in the exams. Either they will choose the wrong formulas or else commit silly mistakes, not be able to solve the entire paper in the given time, not be able to score well or even not score passing marks. They have a deep belief that something will go wrong. They even visualize themselves forgetting the answers to the majority of the questions or not knowing the answers. Negativity takes a toll on them. Thus, these students will not be able to cope with the examination pressure and consequently suffer from exam fear.


Author: Umesh08 May 2023 Member Level: Diamond   Points : 4

Many students are having a fear of examinations. They feel that if they do not perform well in the examination then their careers would be spoilt. They are also afraid of what their family members will remark on their bad performance. There is nothing unusual in this fear that many students possess. At the same time there are many students who regularly study and work hard for the examinations and by the time the examinations start they are well prepared for it and are confident of attempting the examination. So main thing is the continuation of studies throughout the year. Parents also have to create a conducive atmosphere and inculcate confidence in their children and always inspire and motivate them for doing better.
Every student is not like that and there are many who have no liking for studies. It is the duty of the parents as well as teachers to identify such students and divert them to some technical certificate or diploma courses rather than sticking to the academic line.

Author: Sheo Shankar Jha08 May 2023 Member Level: Diamond   Points : 3

Though there is a conducive atmosphere in the schools where the teachers are promoting their best to boost the confidence of the pupils for alleviation of their fears for the upcoming examinations, the results are of mixed types.
Most of the students might be responsive to such sessions and take every step as suggested by the teachers to shed their examination phobias but the same is not applicable to the entire mass.

The following points are the basic reasons for the examination phobia-
1) Very strict discipline of the parents which cause severe stress among the mind of students.
2) Lack of communication between the parents and the kids can push the students to frustrating situations.
3) The company with which the students are passing their times is a determinant of the behaviors of the students. A bad company will lead to escalate their negative emotions.

If the points listed above are sorted out amicably, there is every possibility of retrieval of their fears and they would fit in the mainstream resulting in their better performance in the examinations.

Author: DR.N.V. Srinivasa Rao28 Jun 2023 Member Level: Diamond   Points : 3

This is a good article from the author giving various reasons for exam phobia suffered by students.
Many students may not be having self-confidence. They will understand all the lessons, and they answer all the questions given by the teacher. But due to a lack of confidence, they will be having a doubt in their mind whether they can write the answer correctly or not. In that process, they may forget what they studied and their fear increases. Such students should be identified by the teachers as well as the parents of the students. Then they have to work on the student in such a way that their self-confidence will improve. Mentoring is very important for them.
Such students should be made to write more and more mock tests so that they will get accustomed to writing answers in examinations. When he is frequently able to write the examinations well the fear from his mind will go and he will get confidence.

Author: Purna Prasad Sharma28 Jun 2023 Member Level: Gold   Points : 3

I met a person from America who came to our house. He had come to Goa and then he decided to visit Assam. He was a student of Anthropology and the very next month he had an exam. I was surprised to see him as he had no kind of tension, fear nor eagerness. So I got excited to know how he was so relaxed. According to him, it was very usual for them because when they appear for the exam, they try to relate their answer at the examination to the experiences they gathered. One would not be sure that a particular book could help him to score good marks. So reality, physical experiences and presentation play an important role in their examination pattern. Books are especially used for that part of studies when their teachers teach during the college hours. Taking the topic of the subjects, they need to experiment with the outer world and based on the experiences gathered, they need to answer to the questions in the examination.

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