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How to stop worrying about your exam?

  1. Mar 28, 2015 #1
    After taking an exam, how does one put their mind to rest and calm down about possible errors they made? I took a quantum exam and made two errors that I realized after leaving, one was an algebraic error (We had to solve for the integral of x^3*e^(-ax) from 0 to infinity. Turns out there was a shortcut using substitution that I didn't think about) and the other was a silly graph error that will probably mark me down a bit. Now, I finished every question and I feel confident that I conceptually understood each question and will get high marks besides these mistakes. However, I have an inner demon called Worrying that makes me feel as if my performance was sub par. I know there will be a curve considering a good portion of the class didn't even complete all the questions. Usually the highest scores are in the 80s, so I feel I will be somewhere around there.

    How does one stop worrying about their performance on an exam? I'm naturally a perfectionist which doesn't help in a field where the average test score for an exam is in the 50s and 60s.
  2. jcsd
  3. Mar 28, 2015 #2
    Well imagine as if you've never written an exam, that's what I do. Seriously!!, just if your friends ask you like "hey dude how was your exam?", just be like "what exam? which exam dude?". Just make yourself believe that you haven't given any test and move forward for the preparation of your next exam.
  4. Mar 28, 2015 #3
    Perhaps you have an anxious-type personality, in that case I would seek ways to improve that general aspect, not only for the tests.
    I guess one thing that helps me is to think that no matter how much I repeat the test in my head, there's nothing to do about it. This is rationalizing it.
    Perhaps this doesnt work for some people, since worrying is sometimes not rational, another thing you could do is identify the moment you start worrying, and right then start to engage in another activity. Ones that engage you in physical activity are particularly suited, I think.
  5. Mar 29, 2015 #4


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    I don't know if this will help of not, but in my experience it's important to keep in mind that you have a tendency to remember the mistakes and uncertainties a lot better than the stuff that you got correct. This naturally distorts your perception of your performance.

    It can also help to have stuff to focus on after your exam. Unfortunately this stuff often ends up consisting of the chores that you put off while studying - laundry, groceries, cleaning - stuff that while keeping your hands busy lets your mind drift back to the exam. For some people, having a hobby, something that helps you to focus your mind on something that's not the exam, can help.
  6. Mar 29, 2015 #5

    Doug Huffman

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    Gold Member

    Exams are fine learning tools in the preparation and execution. Except perhaps qualification exams that may impact a career. Take lots of tests and become test-wise.
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