Taking tests is a common part of the formal educational process. Students in school know that it’s only a matter of time before exam week rolls around again—and, leading up to that time, there are the quizzes, assessments, practices, exercises, reviews, etc. Some students take it all in stride; others dread being tested; some are so anxious about making the grade on exams that they “freeze” or “choke” on the big day—which, of course, doesn’t help in making the grade.
Although the Bible does not address taking exams as practiced in modern education, it does have something to say about anxiety and facing pressure. Here is some biblical and practical advice on handling exam anxiety:
Prepare. Early preparation for a test is vital. As Benjamin Franklin said, “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” Good study habits help us learn the material efficiently and prevent “cramming” the night before. Part of preparation is communicating ahead of time with the instructor in order to know what material will be covered on the test. Be sure to balance preparation for an exam with other activities. Remember that “much study wearies the body” (Ecclesiastes 12:12). So don’t overdo it, and be sure to pay attention to the next point:
Rest. In the days leading up to an exam, be sure to eat well and get some exercise. A good night’s sleep the night before the test is almost always better than a late-night cram session.
Pray. Ask the Lord for clarity of thought, the ability to focus, and the skill to make wise use of time during the test. Ask for the peace of God to control your heart (Philippians 4:7).
Relax. Exams can be fearful because they involve an element of the unknown. Refuse to panic; instead, allow the Holy Spirit to fill you with His fruit of peace. All things are known to God, and we know that He is in control. No matter what, He has promised to be with His children and not forsake them (Hebrews 13:5).
Trust. Take to heart God’s promise that, no matter what, He loves His own (Romans 8:38–39). His acceptance of us is based on the perfect work of His Son, not on our academic success (or failure).
Obey. The command is “fear not” (Luke 12:7). Take courage, trust in the Lord, and do your best.
Philippians 4:6 says, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” The “anything” here includes test-taking; the “every situation” includes when the instructor hands out exams—or says it’s time to log in to the exam online. We shouldn’t be anxious about exams, especially if we are doing as the verse says: praying with a spirit of gratitude and appealing to the Lord for help.