Why some people have extreme fear of exams

By M.Farouk Radwan, MSc.

Do you fear exams?

I got an email from one of the readers who said that he has an intense fear of exams to the extent that he always forgets everything whenever he takes a test. Even though that person studies well, has got a good level of intelligence still as soon as he gets inside a test he forgets everything and fails to write a single word.

Why do some people have intense fear of exams?
Why do some people lose their ability to write as soon as they get inside exam rooms?

First of all i am not going to talk about people who fear exams but have no problems taking them simply because each normal person should have some fear towards exams. However when that feeling becomes, disabling such as with the case of our friend here, then we can assume that something wrong is going on and we have to investigate further to find it.

Why some people have extreme fear of exams

Why would someone have an intense fear of exams to the extent that he writes nothing on the exam paper?
I have said earlier that each emotion we get has a purpose and this includes fear.

Fear always has the purpose of letting you run away from the thing that scares you. Each normal person fears exams to a certain extent but they never run away simply because the feelings are not that intense.

But what if someone is getting too intense feelings that he fails to write? This means that his mind has the purpose of letting him run away from the exam. In other words, that person's mind doesn't want him to take the exam and this is why it's sending him a disabling fear.

But why the mind of that person doesn't want him to succeed?
Here are two possible reasons:

  • 1) Fear of testing his self worth: That person might have been brought up in a way that mistakenly taught him that exams measure the self worth of a person. In such a case getting a bad grade is similar to being worthless. You might wonder why the mind chooses to fail if it cares about getting good grades? Simply becuse failing and giving an excuse related to a psychological disorder, such as intense fear of exams, is much more accpetable for that person than testing his self worth (see also Is your subconscious mind sabotaging your life)
  • 2) That person is too afraid to take the next step: If that person finished High-school or college then he will be forced to move to a next phase of life. If that person is too afraid of taking the next step then his mind might decide to keep him stuck at the same phase (see The connection between procrastination and self deception)

Is your subconscious mind working against you?

In the Super powers course i explained how lack of self understanding can result in similar conflicts between the conscious and the subconscious mind.

While the conscious mind would want to achieve a certain goal , such as succeeding in an exam, the unconscious mind might actually want to make a person fail to achieve a totally different goal.

This is why it's extremely important that you learn to bridge the gap between the conscious and the subconscious mind so that no conflict of interest happens.

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