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Assessment is a big part of university study. It’s required to show your understanding of your units, and to demonstrate that you are ready to progress through your degree toward graduation. It occurs regularly and with plenty of notice beforehand, and you will receive positive and negative feedback afterward. There are many types of assessment – from essays, to exams, to group projects, to oral presentations – and each will challenge you in different ways.

But despite all these things, assessment is the number one cause of anxiety and stress for students.

You might be feeling the pressure to get a particular result, or you might just be nervous about passing. You might not enjoy public speaking, or you might be having difficulty communicating with your team members on an assignment. You might feel overwhelmed by the amount of time and effort you’re required to commit to prepare for a big exam, especially if you’ve got a few assessments happening at the same time.

The important things to remember are:

  • it's normal and even healthy to feel nervous or anxious before an assessment
  • all students must undertake assessment: it’s a routine part of university study
  • the most important thing to remember is to prepare adequately and try your best
  • there are lots of practical ways to prepare for and manage the normal anxiety that accompanies assessments.

What to do

As above, it’s normal to feel a little anxious before an assessment. This usually means you care about your work and how you’re going to perform. It can help provide the burst of adrenaline you need to meet a deadline.

It's when this anxiety becomes overwhelming that it’s time to reach out for some support. Maybe you can’t bring yourself to study or work on the assessment at all, or you’re having physical symptoms of anxiety like feeling sick, or it’s starting to affect your mood and your sleep. You might feel like you want to give up completely instead of persevering.

The best ways to prepare for your assessments are:

  • Stay on track with your studies by attending or viewing your classes, doing the required readings, understanding the requirements of your assessments and knowing the due dates.
  • Maintaining a study-life balance by using a schedule to allocate time for study but also things you enjoy – like hobbies, socialising and simply relaxing – and things that will keep you healthy – like sleep, moving your body and eating well.
  • Studying with your friends and classmates so you can chat about your assessments and prepare together. It always helps to talk to someone and share your experience.
  • Learning mindfulness and some relaxation techniques, such as breathing or meditation, can be very helpful when you’re getting overwhelmed before a test, exam or an oral presentation.

Getting support

If you’re feeling overwhelmed by one or all of your assessments, you can book an appointment with a Deakin counsellor. You can talk to them about how you’re feeling, and they can offer strategies for coping with the stress and anxiety. They will also be able to gauge if your feelings toward your assessments are healthy, or if they’re interrupting your life to a point where you might need some mental health support.

If your worries are more study-related and you’d like some guidance about how to study effectively, get in touch with our Study assistance team.

If you’ve got a question about a particular assessment or there’s something you don’t understand, it’s best to chat to your Unit Chair – they will be able to offer clarification and advice.

Remember, we’ve got some helpful planners that can assist you when you’ve got an assessment on the horizon, particularly our assessment planner. We’ve also got academic skills articles on the different types of assessments you’ll encounter at Deakin.

If you have a medical condition or an emergency situation that will affect one or more of your assessments, you might be eligible for special consideration. You can apply online.

More help and advice

The DeakinWELLBEING app can help you find balance and develop healthy habits, which may help you to reduce and manage your anxiety about assessments.

Organise your week by scheduling in time for work, study, fun and rest using our weekly planner.

ReachOut has tips on how to nail your study-life balance.

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