Anxiety is distinguished from fear, which is an appropriate cognitive and emotional response to a perceived threat. Anxiety is related to the specific behaviors of fight-or-flight responses, defensive behavior or escape. It occurs in situations only perceived as uncontrollable or unavoidable, but not realistically so.  It is a future-oriented mood state in which one is not ready or prepared to attempt to cope with upcoming negative events, and that it is a distinction between future and present dangers which divides anxiety and fear.

An anxiety disorder typically causes a great deal of distress, and interferes with the ability to relax and experience a sense of enjoyment and well-being. Feeling nervous for exams is a normal feeling among college students. However, extreme feelings of anxiety and stress before and during an exam can have unhealthy results. Anxiety can be problematic when it prevents you from taking or doing your best on an exam, causes you to feel anxious all the time, or becomes extreme.

See Free Undergraduate Project Topics And Research Materials on anxiety and examination

Test anxiety is a combination of physical symptoms and emotional reactions that interfere with your ability to perform well on tests. Many students experience varying levels of test anxiety for a number of difference reasons. If you’re someone who does, check out these suggestions and resources to reduce your text anxiety and improve your overall testing experience in school.


Anxiety is a feeling of uneasiness and worry, usually generalized and unfocused as an overreaction to a situation that is only subjectively seen as menacing. It is often accompanied by muscular tension, restlessness, fatigue and problems in concentration. Anxiety is closely related to fear, which is a response to a real or perceived immediate threat; anxiety involves the expectation of future threat. People facing anxiety may withdraw from situations which have provoked anxiety in the past. It is an emotion characterized by an unpleasant state of inner turmoil, often accompanied by nervous behavior such as pacing back and forth, somatic complaints, and rumination.[1] It includes subjectively unpleasant feelings of dread over anticipated event.

It is a feeling of worry, nervousness, or unease about something with an uncertain outcome. It however, differs from developmentally normative fear or anxiety by being excessive or persisting beyond developmentally appropriate periods. They differ from transient fear or anxiety, often stress-induced, by being persistent (e.g., typically lasting 6 months or more), although the criterion for duration is intended as a general guide with allowance for some degree of flexibility and is sometimes of shorter duration in children.


A big event or a buildup of smaller stressful life situations may trigger excessive anxiety for example, a death in the family, work stress or ongoing worry about finances. People with certain personality types are more prone to anxiety disorders than others are. Anxiety may be caused by a mental condition, a physical condition, the effects of drugs, or a combination of these. The doctor's initial task is to see if your anxiety is a symptom of another medical condition.

Common causes of anxiety include these mental conditions:

Panic disorder: Anxiety may be caused by a mental condition, a physical condition, the effects of drugs, or a combination of these. The doctor's initial task is to see if your anxiety is a symptom of another medical condition.

These common external factors can cause anxiety:

  1. Stress at work
  2. Stress from school

iii. Stress in a personal relationship such as marriage

  1. Financial stress
  2. Stress from global occurrences or political issues
  3. Stress from unpredictable or uncertain world events, like a pandemic”

vii. Stress from an emotional trauma such as the death of a loved one.

viii. Stress from a serious medical illness

  1. Side effect of medication
  2. Use of an illicit drug, such ascocaine.
  3. Symptom of a medical illness (such as heart attack, heat stroke, hypoglycemia)

xii. Lack of oxygen in circumstances as diverse as high altitude sickness, emphysema, or pulmonary embolism (a blood clot in the vessels of the lung).


There are several types of anxiety disorders, and each has its own set of common symptoms however, the two most common types are:

Low anxiety: students who experience low anxiety may feel a little nervous about an upcoming exam but are still able to focus their attention on their studies or the questions asked during the assessment. Usually low anxiety students are not struck with intrusive thoughts or feel debilitated by the exam.

High anxiety: students who experience high anxiety show an immediate anxiety reaction when exposed to the feared test situation. They attempt to avoid the situation by not showing up to the exam, or may endure it but with extreme fear. High anxiety can tip some into a sense of panic: “I just really can’t do this

 Panic Disorder

 Panic Disorder is characterized by sudden, intense episodes of fear and anxiety that occur often and without warning. During a panic attack, physical symptoms such as shortness of breath, racing heart, dizziness, or feeling flushed typically occur. Feelings of unreality and fear of fainting, losing control, or dying are also common during panic episodes. Although panic attacks are not physically harmful in themselves, the experience can be frightening. People who experience panic attacks may become fearful of having more, and may begin to avoid public situations, such as parties, classrooms or social gatherings. College students are in a high risk age group for Panic Disorder, which is most frequently diagnosed during young adulthood. Please click here for more information on Panic Attacks

Generalized Anxiety Disorder

Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) is characterized by excessive apprehension and worry about everyday life events that is difficult to control. Ongoing feelings of restlessness or feeling keyed up, difficulty concentrating; muscle tension or headache, irritability, and difficulty sleeping are common symptoms of this disorder. People who have GAD often have a persistent, unrealistic fear that something bad is about to happen. About 5% of the population suffers from GAD.


A phobia is an exaggerated fear of a specific object or situation (e.g. spiders, flying in an airplane, enclosed places, blood, heights, dogs, thunderstorms). A phobia may cause a person to limit oneself unnecessarily because of the anxiety associated with the possibility of encountering what is feared. Phobias often begin in childhood. Although 5-10% of the population have been found to have specific fears severe enough to be classified as phobic, often what is frightening can be avoided without causing significant difficulty in life. However, treatment is recommended if the fear of the object or situation causes frequent distress, or if it leads to significant disruption in routine, activities or relationships.

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

The obsessions of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder are persistent thoughts, images or impulses that are distressing. Common examples of obsessive thoughts are doubts about having turned off an electrical appliance or having locked a door, unrealistic fears of germs, or disturbing thoughts of causing harm to a loved one. The compulsions of OCD are characterized by the urgent need to do something to prevent or get rid of the anxiety associated with the obsessive thoughts. Compulsions include behaviors such as hand washing, counting, or having to do things perfectly or in a particular order. Many people have occasional obsessive thoughts or compulsive behaviors. However, people who struggle with this disorder spend over an hour a day consumed with obsessive thoughts and compulsive behaviors, and these symptoms greatly interfere with daily life.

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) may occur in the wake of a traumatic event, such as a serious accident, sexual or physical assault, or combat in war. Symptoms may include avoidance or distress at reminders of the trauma, recurring images of the event, feeling numb or detached, irritability, being easily startled, and having nightmares or other sleep difficulties. Not everyone who experiences a traumatic event will develop PTSD, and it is common for people to experience some of these symptoms in the weeks following a traumatic event. However, PTSD is diagnosed when the symptoms persist for more than a month after the event, and cause significant distress or impairment in daily life.

Social Anxiety Disorder

Social Anxiety Disorder is a marked and persistent fear of social or performance situations in which there is exposure to unfamiliar people or the possibility of judgment by others. These situations are avoided because of the fear of acting in a way that might be humiliating. When the situation cannot be avoided, physical symptoms of anxiety such as trembling, blushing or nausea often occur. Many people experience some degree of nervousness in social settings. However, individuals who struggle with Social Anxiety Disorder severely limit what they do to avoid unfamiliar situations or people, and their anxiety usually does not diminish when actually in the stressful situation.



Waiting until the last minute or not studying at all can leave you feeling anxious and overwhelmed. It is important that you prepare very well even before the set date of the examination.


While the pressure of doing well on an exam can be motivating, it can be detrimental to yourself worth if you associate the grade of the test with your value. The uncertainty of whether you wrote the right or wrong thing can leave you feeling very anxious. And this thought can leave fear in you because you are not sure if you will fail or pass.


You are also not sure of what to expect you might be anticipating for an A but at the same time fear of having an F. so after an examination, you are not sure of what to expect or the outcome of the examination which is the result.


Most course lecturers have put fear in the hearts of their students mostly by what they say in the classroom like ‘nobody will get an A or B some course lecturers even go as far as saying nobody can and will pass the course no matter how they read. This words leave fear in the minds of students regardless of how well they prepare for the course exam.



It is advisable you start studying a few weeks in advance so that you have enough time to prepare for your examinations. Space your studying out into smaller chunks over time. If you feel confident that you’ve prepared thoroughly, you’ll feel more confident walking into the examination hall because you are well prepared and have done a lot of research.  With preparation comes confident.


Studying with past questions is highly advisable for students preparing for any kind of examination be it internal or external examinations. There is tendencies of questions been repeated overtime. So if you have studied and answered those past questions, there is likelihood that you will answer those questions very well if repeated in the examination. Studying with past questions also gives you a glimpse on how lecturers set their questions and how to answer them appropriately. You can also ask your course lecturer questions form the past questions you’ve studied to help widen your knowledge.


As an undergraduate student it is important you take notes during lecturers and if for any reason you are not present or late for a lecture, it is advised you get course note from your colleagues who were present in the lecture to keep your note updated as it will help you during your study time.


Conclusively, students must ensure to be well prepared and ready for their examinations. They should also relax their minds and be confident in themselves knowing that confidence can only come when you are fully prepared by reading all that needs to be ready before the examination time. Anxiety has it positive and negative sides. The positive side of anxiety can make one perform a task efficiently and very fast too and can also make a students go all out to make sure he/she equips himself/herself for the examination by thorough reading and researching. While the negative aspect of anxiety is that it can easily take away all that you have studied away because your mind isn’t relax.


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