Nervous About The 11+? Here Are 3 Ways To Annihilate Exam Anxiety

We've all been there. It's the Big Day and your 11+ paper is just hours away.

 How to conquer exam nerves when preparing for the 11+

How to conquer exam nerves when preparing for the 11+

Something's amiss, though - your breakfast has gone cold and you've locked yourself in the bathroom for the past two hours.

Your hands are clammy, your pulse is dancing a two-step: everything from your toenails up to your eyelids seems, somehow, to be sweating. Simply put: you're miserable.

Rest assured, however; you're not sick, you're just going through exam anxiety, and it's something everybody deals with at some point.

Read on to learn our top three tips on how to master your panic and give yourself the best shot at success.


1. Deep Breaths

Yep, you're dead right: this one does sound ridiculous. After all, isn't it what people advise when they have nothing better to offer? Don't knock it 'til you try it, though: a deceptively simple technique has been backed up again and again by cold, hard science.

The fact is that the biggest weapon in exam anxiety's arsenal is depriving your brain of the optimum amount of oxygen it needs to function - either by stressing it away or making you so jittery that you can't even use it properly.

Don't let your hard work go to waste for want of some oxygen - try this simple strategy, discovered by students at Harvard, for some much needed relief (and oxygen saturation!).

1. Breathe in for a count of four
2. Hold your breath for a count of seven, and
3. Exhale slowly while you count to eight. 

That's it. Sound simple? That's probably because it is.

Give it a shot, though - we recommend repeating the cycle above four times, and then taking a short break before the next four repetitions until you've completed 16 "long breaths" in total - and just see if it doesn't calm you all the way down.

2. Eat Light

Don't get us wrong - food is the fuel that powers our brains, and we'd be lost without it.

All we propose is to avoid the all-too-accessible refuge of a solid, heavy meal - most of the time, this serves no further purpose than to further deplete your blood's oxygen levels, as well as making you too sleepy to focus properly.

When coupled with ample amounts of water (just say NO to caffeine!), fruits such as bananas and apples provide exactly the high-energy, slow-release carbohydrates you need to function at your maximum capacity.

We suggest a banana 15 minutes before the start of your 11+ paper, as well as a nice, green apple you can munch on to sustain yourself while getting that perfect score.

3. Raise Your Expectations

Although it may sound counter-intuitive - after all, aren't we trying to reduce pressure, not increase it? - this tip is perhaps the most important of any of those listed here.

Think about it - you've done your time with the tutoring, you've put in the hard work: an elite school should consider themselves blessed to have you walk through their door!

This test is the perfect chance for you to make them realise what an opportunity they have in you.

Remind yourself of all the preparation you've done, and then aim even higher than you did before.

The elite school of your choice is just a hallway away: stride up to your 11+ paper and kick the door in.

There you have it - our top tips for making exam anxiety rue the day it ever set eyes on you. What techniques do YOU have for conquering nerves?

Let us know in the comments below!