Exam anxiety

13 May 2009

During May and June, more than 80,000 exams will be taken at BI in six different locations. Many students have been dreading this since January. According to the Foundation for Student Life in Oslo (SiO) Health Service, seven percent of the enquiries they receive concern mostly exam nerves.


It's hard to say exactly how many who suffer from exam anxiety. The SiO Health Service receives students with exam anxiety all year long, not just before final exams. In 2008, 20 percent of those who consulted the Health Service said they had study-related problems, while seven percent said exam anxiety was the most important reason for their inquiry,” says chief psychologist Rigmor Mogaard of the SiO Student Health Service.  

Exam anxiety courses

Every year, the Student Health Service holds courses for students with exam anxiety. The Health Service encourages students to visit as early as possible in the semester, so there is time to address the problem well before the exam period starts.  

”Exam anxiety is a type of performance anxiety. If it is too strong, it can affect the exam preparations, especially just before the exam. The student can also become afraid of panicking during the exam, an ”anxiety about the anxiety’. And for this reason, many tend to avoid or postpone the exam. Such a pattern can easily reinforce the exam anxiety,” Mogaard explains.  

Many also experience cold sweats, nausea and vomiting. ”If these emotions take control and prevent you from concentrating on your exam work, this is also a form of exam anxiety. In most cases, it passes after the exam, but for some people it tends to recur – some experience exam anxiety from the very start of the semester,” the chief psychologist says.  

The exam anxiety groups work towards breaking the pattern of avoidance, the student has to take a mock exam and the student’s confidence is strengthened.  

BI takes the problem seriously

BI Norwegian School of Management, which is Norway’s second largest educational institution, will hold more than 80,000 individual exams in its six locations during May and June. Head of Student Life at BI, Trude Tanum, says BI is working proactively to give students tips and advice on how to handle the challenges in connection with an exam.  

”The various types of help on hand, both through SiO and the BI student chaplain, are readily available for all students in need of assistance or advice. The challenge is to increase openness on the subject, so that those in need of help, receive help,” she says.   

Frequent written assignments increase confidence

Exams at BI Norwegian School of Management consist of frequent written assignments throughout the semester and several smaller exams. This sets BI Norwegian School of Management apart from many other educational institutions which have just one final exam each semester.  

”I think the way BI organises exams contributes to a greater sense of mastering the exam situation, which in turn may help reduce the performance pressure on the students,” says Tanum.  


Facts about BI Norwegian School of Management’s exams:

  • 80,619 individual exams are held
  • 22,126 students for the spring semester at BI
  • 38,000 written exams in Oslo
  • Exams are held at our six Norwegian study locations, in 40 other locations throughout Norway, as well as in 32 locations abroad.
  • 5,606 registered candidates for the Consumer Behaviour exam (definitely the biggest exam day at BI)
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