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Are you petrified of failing an exam? The first thing to know is that it’s okay to feel like that. Fear of failing an exam is a normal and common fear. Millions of people have felt the same as you.  It’s good to know you are not alone.

The brilliant thing is, you have recognized this fear. There are lots of strategies for dealing with this fear. The fear may not go away, but after reading this post you will march forward and do your exam despite this fear and feel great!

Read on for 5 Unique Strategies of Overcoming the fear.

Accept Your Fear

The first thing to know is that whether or not you pass this exam, you have recognized this fear. And that’s an amazing thing. Let the fear sit inside you a little. Accept it. It’s there. Where can you feel it in your body? Close your eyes and accept that you are a little scared, but that’s okay.

In fact, being scared is a good thing. There is so much this fear is here to teach you.

You may find, that after a few moments of sitting with the fear, it leaves you. If this happens, this is great. You’ve accepted it and so it’s left. It may be back. But you can try the same process again and watch it leave.

However, you may find it sticks around, this is great too – it is here to teach you something more.

Read on to find some lessons:

Realize The Voice Of Fear Inside Your Head Is Crazy

Here is a little experiment for you.

Spend a day listening to the voice inside your head. In her book “Feel the Fear and Do it Anyway” Susan Jeffers calls it the chatterbox, because it doesn’t shut up.

When you listen to it, you’ll realize this voice is completely crazy.

It’ll give you advice one minute and then the next minute it will completely change its mind and say the opposite.

For example, perhaps you’ve been invited to a party. It might say one minute, “you should go to that, it’ll be fun. You’ve got that new outfit to wear. You haven’t been to a party in such a long while, I think it’ll be good for you.” Then the next minute, it will say “although you probably won’t know anybody. You might have to stand on your own for a bit, and then you’ll look sad and lonely. Nobody will want to talk to you. Maybe you shouldn’t go.”

This voice is crazy. It says one thing and then completely changes tune. If a friend talked to you like this, you would think they were mad. You wouldn’t listen. You would last 10 or 20 minutes, then you would tell your friend to shut up.

Yet, we listen to this voice and take advice from it.

When your voice is telling you, you are going to fail the exam, just realize that it’s just a thought. If you wait a few minutes, that thought will disappear and be replaced by another one. The fear of failure your voice is giving you about the exam is not true! You only have to listen to the voice in your head for a little while to realize it’s completely crazy. Yet, we believe it. And there lies the problem. Realize that you don’t have to believe the voice in your head.

One piece of advice that I find works is to give the voice a name such as Gary. When Gary say you are going to fail your exam, say “not today Gary!” Or tell him to “shut up”.


When you’re scared of something, it helps to have practical solutions. Preparation is a great tool against the fear of exam failure. You will feel better if you are prepared and worse if you’ve done no or little preparation.

If you prepare to the best of your ability, you can tell yourself that whatever happens, you have done your best. It is a comfort knowing you did everything you could to pass the exam, whatever the outcome.

Here are some proven strategies to prepare for your exam:

A Study schedule

Put together a revision planner. Schedule the times and dates you will sit down and revise. Then stick to it!

Effective Study Strategies

There are some amazing study skill strategies that you can learn. Search on YouTube for some brilliant videos on how to study. Here is one with tips on how to revise for exams.

There are also some fantastic study skills books that can help you. One to consider is How to Become a Straight-A Grade Student by Cal Newport. 

Everybody learns differently. It’s important to learn study strategies that will work for you. If a strategy doesn’t resonate with you, discard it and try something else. We are all different learners. Have a go with a few different techniques. Have fun with it!

Also, remember to take breaks. Exercise and rest as well as study. There will be a point where you can cram no more in and you will know it. At that point, stop studying. Take a break and come back to it when you are refreshed.

Keep Things In Perspective

It sometimes helps to think about the worst case scenario and think about what is the worse thing that could happen. Write a list of the worst case scenarios. Fore example:

  1. You might never pass the exam
  2. You will feel disappointed in yourself.
  3. Your family and friends will judge you

Now you are going to try a strategy to overcome these fears.

Imagine your best friend came to you with this list of fears. What advice would you tell him or her:

1.) You might never pass the exam.

Best Friend: You are selling yourself short. You’ve done all this work, of course, you will pass. Even if you don’t pass, you could do (another amazing thing you’re good at). You are going to be a success in life, whatever you do.

2.) You will feel disappointed in yourself.

Best Friend: It’s okay to feel disappointed but also know that the most successful people in this world fail in their life, and you are one of them. If you want to be successful in life, you will fail at some point. There is no getting around it. It’s worth changing your perspective on failure and realize that it’s a positive. You can learn from it. You have survived despite failing. You are a stronger and resilient person for going through an exam that you are scared of and surviving through the experience.

Also, you have so much bravery and courage for having a go at this exam despite your fear of failure. How can you be disappointed in yourself when you’ve displayed qualities such as these? So many people wouldn’t even have had a go. You’ve learned so much in the process of doing the exam too.

3.) Family and friends will judge you,

Even if there is a family member that judges you, that is their problem and not yours. I, as your best friend, value you because you are an amazing person in so many ways. (Your best friend would then list your amazing qualities – what does he or she think they are. Perhaps you’re funny, kind, inspirational, clever – whatever it is, make a list of all the things that make you amazing). Also know that family and friends only judge you because they are lacking the approval of themselves.

Get Support

If you’re worried about failing an exam, another way to help is to speak to people before the exam. Here are some ideas:

Your Tutor

Why not bring up your worries with your tutor. He or she should be able to advise some strategies that can help you. They may also be able to reassure you.


Speak to friends or family. They may help you gain some perspective on your worries.

Student Support at Your School, College or University

Is there a student support facility or student counselor with whom you could book an appointment? The fear of failing an exam is a common fear. They will have heard it before. They won’t judge you and will be able to help you with more resources and support.


Doing an exam can be frightening. I would say to this – Yes but the fear is Your teacher.

Even if you fail this exam, you will learn how to deal with fear and act in spite of it. That’s a great skill to learn and take forward in your life. Maybe that is what taking the exam is really here to teach you. Good luck!


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