Test Anxiety Tips: How to Ace an Exam Without the Worry

Despite flaws with the current educational system, one of the main measurements of intelligence, knowledge, and predictors for success are examinations.

Starting as early as 12 years old, children are taught that much of their success rides on the grades they receive on a few important tests.

Unfortunately for those prone to anxiety, this creates a whole new series of fears and concerns that are both debilitating and often precipitate bad grades themselves.

test anxietyStudents become so anxious about getting good grades, their anxiety makes them perform poorly on tests.

Whether you are a parent, high school, or university student, test anxiety is no laughing matter. Test taking anxiety not only destroys cognitive performance, but can reduce general happiness and wellbeing throughout education.

Learning how to overcome test anxiety is a multi-part process that includes daily practices and habits along with strategic supplementation (known as nootropics or study stacks).

Part 1: Overcoming Anxiety with Nootropic Study Stacks

One of the main reasons students struggle with test anxiety is because they aren’t adequately prepared.

If you went into an exam testing your knowledge of the alphabet, it wouldn’t create much test anxiety, would it? Unless you have a serious case, that type of exam wouldn’t create any problems.

There are dozens of study blogs and materials to learn how to study, but as a nootropic and mental performance resource, we are going to show you how to prepare using smart drugs.

Here are nootropic options that can help you to study more effectively and at the end we have developed some study stacks depending on your experience level:

Caffeine and L-Theanine – most students have found caffeine at some point whether it is in high school or college. Caffeine is an effective drug for mental performance, but it has a host of side effects. Because caffeine increases adrenaline, one of the side effects is more anxiety!

test taking anxietyBy adding the L-theanine to the combination, you can negate many of the side effects of caffeine, such as increased heart rate and blood pressure. Most importantly, L-theanine helps to reduce the jittery and anxious feelings [1].

For studying, systematic reviews show that L-theanine can make the focus and attention benefits of caffeine even stronger than taking it by itself [2]. So not only do you remove the anxiety associated with caffeine, but you increase concentration as well.

Bacopa Monnieri – despite the strange name, bacopa monnieri is an Ayurvedic herbal remedy used in India for cognitive performance enhancement. It has been used for thousands of years and continues to be one of the most well-researched and effective nootropics for studying.

During the studying phase, bacopa is particularly helpful for increased memory formation [3] and it is well-studied with few side effects. According to one Redditor:

I was taking this when I was in an anatomy class (and anyone that has taken one can vouch that it is almost purely memorization) and consistently got the highest grades with less effort than my other peers that were in the top percentile of the class. I’d highly recommend it for absolutely anyone in academia, as it is safe and, for me, extremely effective.” [4]

Racetams – discovered in the 1960s, racetams are a family of drugs that are used to treat memory loss and neurological decline. The most famous of these is piracetam, which isn’t very potent, but may be a good place to start. Piracetam (and similar drugs in the family) usually work by increasing a brain chemical called acetylcholine in a certain region of the brain called the hippocampus [5].

When studying, this is one of the main stacks people recommend so that you can memorize more facts, figures, and equations. Keep in mind, many people need to combine piracetam with a choline source (like citicoline or alpha GPC). Also, given piracetam is relatively subtle, people combine with aniracetam and newer options like fasoracetam.

study stackLion’s Mane Mushroom – one major advantage of using lion’s mane mushroom is the increased expression of nerve-growth factor (NGF) in regions of the brain like the hippocampus (where memories are created and stored) [6].

More than likely, if you’re trying to increase memory formation and learning ability prior to a test, added nerve-growth for your brain is going to help.

 

Modafinil – if you’re new to nootropics you may have never heard of modafinil but it is one of the most popular study nootropics you can find. Modafinil is a powerful stimulant (technically a “wakefulness enhancer”) that can reduce mental fatigue and enhance concentration. One study on military personnel awake for 64 hours showed it was as useful as amphetamine in preventing cognitive decline during sleep deprivation [7].

This is a great drug for studying, but comes with a caution. Users can build a tolerance quickly so it should be added on a particularly difficult day of studying and not every day. Also, powerful stimulants like modafinil actually hurt intelligence in many cases (so does Adderall) [8] so it is a good idea to study with this drug occasionally, but definitely do not take it on test day.

PRL-8-53 – this is a research chemical and test drug that has little evidence and no safety data. However, for those willing to take a risk, the existing research is promising. In one study, PRL-8-53 was tested for memory formation and found increases of 87.5 – 105% while people over the age of 30 experienced enhancements of 108 – 152% [9].

Nootropic Study Stacks for All

Beginner:

Links go to recommended products.

Caffeine: 80 mg daily
L-Theanine: 160 mg daily
Bacopa monnieri: 3-350 mg daily

Intermediate:

Links go to recommended products.

Caffeine: 80 mg daily
L-Theanine: 160 mg daily
Bacopa monnieri: 3-350 mg x 2 per day
Lion’s mane extract: 1000 mg
Piracetam: 4200 mg daily (2-3 doses)
Alpha GPC: 300 mg daily

Advanced:

Links go to recommended products.

Caffeine: 80 mg daily
L-Theanine: 160 mg daily
Bacopa monnieri: 3-350 mg x 2 per day
Lion’s mane extract: 1000 mg
Piracetam: 4200 mg daily (2-3 doses)
Aniracetam: 750 mg daily
Alpha GPC: 300 mg daily
PRL-8-53: 5-10 mg daily
Modafinil: 1-200 mg once per 7 – 10 days

Part 2: Acing Your Exam

We don’t rise to the level of our expectations, we fall to our level of training.” – Archilochos

Test day. It feels like everything rides on your performance, but the reality is, most of the hard part is over. If you have done a good job preparing for the exam in the days and weeks beforehand, acing the test shouldn’t be difficult.

You will probably need fewer nootropic drugs on the day of your test itself. Here is what we would recommend:

Caffeine + L-Theanine – if you already take caffeine daily, starting your withdrawal symptoms with brain fog and a headache isn’t a great way to take your exam. Use caffeine if it is something you already take daily. Just make sure you combine the caffeine with L-theanine so it doesn’t create more anxiety and other side effects.

Bacopa Monnieri – this is one of the few nootropics actually tested for mental performance on tests. It helps increase memory formation during the studying phase, but on test day the real use is reducing anxiety [10]. This is where increased mental performance comes from and Indian children still use this treatment to this day.

Ashwagandha – another Ayurvedic herb, ashwagandha is an even more potent anxiety reducing supplement than bacopa [11]. If you have used ashwagandha before and feel that it can help during a test, this might be a good exam day addition. Don’t try any nootropic you haven’t already taken and experienced for yourself, however.

Tianeptine – if you are feeling the test anxiety coming on really strongly, you might want to use tianeptine as a replacement for ashwagandha. This is definitely one of the more advanced test anxiety tips, but it can help many people to reduce high levels of stress [12]. Take only 25 mg of tianeptine sulfate per day. You can get it here.

Part 3: How to Overcome Test Anxiety with Practices and Habits

Our objective is to help you learn how to overcome test anxiety with the help of nootropic study stacks, but there are plenty of daily habits and practices you can use to overcome your stress.

Keep in mind, the most important factor in test taking anxiety is preparation. If you can prepare properly, you will have far less anxiety, but nootropics alone cannot make good preparation.

Overcoming obstacles such as procrastination, laziness, and distractions (like social media), will do more to help than any smart drug.

Similarly, no nootropic will compensate for a lack of sleep the night before an exam. Don’t make the mistake of thinking these drugs will allow you to study all night and ace the test. Get a full night of sleep and maintain healthy lifestyle factors that allow you to perform your best.

References (Click to Expand)
    1. //www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22214254
    2. //www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18681988
    3. //www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20703343
    4. locused.//www.reddit.com/r/Nootropics/comments/44g05u/best_nootropics_for_memory/
    5. //www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/7231039
    6. //www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18758067
    7. //www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10607161
    8. //www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22884611
    9. //www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/418433
    10. //www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22747190
    11. //www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19718255
    12. //www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11463130

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