Does this sound familiar? You wake up on the day of your exam feeling so confident because you have been diligent in your studies and you know all of the material. You arrive to the classroom and sit down with a smile on your face ready to demonstrate all of the knowledge you’ve attained through lectures and reading. And then the test papers are handed out, and you find that you have forgotten it all. What’s even more maddening is that when you finally turn your test in — only half-finished or worse — the material suddenly comes flooding back to your memory.

This is an example of test anxiety, and almost every student at one time or another has experienced it to some degree. Maybe the symptom was as mild as “butterflies” in the stomach. Or maybe it was more severe, leading up to a full blown panic attack during an exam. No matter where the anxiety rates on the scale, it causes students to not perform as well on exams as they are truly capable of doing.

Hypnosis is a valuable tool for reducing or even eliminating test anxiety, and here is a self-hypnosis technique you can practice to help improve exam performance.

While sitting or lying down in a safe environment, begin by taking a few deep, slow, relaxed breaths. With each exhale, say to yourself a word such as “relax” or “calm” or any other word you find suitable.

Next, bring your attention down to your feet and relax all of the muscles in your feet. Slowly proceed to the muscles around your ankles and calves, relaxing them as well; then to the knees; thighs; hips; the low back; the upper back; across the shoulders; down the arms; into the hands and fingers; the neck; the head; and even the facial muscles.

If you wish to relax even deeper, imagine you are standing at the top of a staircase with ten steps. With each step you take down the staircase, allow your body and mind to relax even deeper. When you reach the bottom of the steps, you will find yourself deeply relaxed. Enjoy this moment of relaxation.

Once you are deeply relaxed, imagine yourself taking your exam in the way that you would like. If you want to feel confident while taking a test, muster up all of the emotions and sensations of feeling confident and focus your attention on that. Maintain this feeling of confidence and, if it begins to slip away, simply bring it back into your imagination again.

Then, while you’re experiencing confidence in your imagination, add to it all of the usual sights, sounds, and even scents that you expect to experience during your exam. You may imagine the sounds of shuffling papers, pencils scratching across paper, the sounds of classmates clearing their throats, or any other normal sounds you experience in the classroom. Imagine the fluorescent lights or the light beaming in from the window. Imagine what it feels like to sit in the chair at your desk in the classroom. If you often smell chalk or whiteboard markers or any other scents in your classroom, bring that into your imagination as well — all the while maintaining the sense of confidence you wish to feel.

You can choose to go even further by repeating positive suggestions to yourself while in this state of deep relaxation. As you say these positive phrases, imagine each one as clearly as possible. The subconscious mind doesn’t differentiate between imagination and reality, so the more it practices the experience of confidence (either in the “real” world or in the mind) the more it believes it is confident, and it will then guide you to perform in a confident manner whenever it comes time to take an exam.

A few sample suggestions include:

“Hearing the word ‘quiz’ or ‘test’ or ‘exam’ causes me to feel completely relaxed and at ease.”

“I enter the classroom with an air of confidence.”

“My confidence increases the moment the exam beings and remains strong throughout the entire exam.”

“I am relaxed and comfortable while taking a test.”

“I easily retrieve information from my memory.”

“When I finish my exam, I have plenty of time remaining to double check my answers.”

Use your imagination to create suggestions that will be most helpful to you.

After about a half hour to an hour, you can slowly stretch out, take a few more deep breaths, open your eyes, and bring yourself out of the hypnotic state. Don’t worry if you fall asleep. You won’t get stuck in hypnosis; you will simply wake up as if waking from a nap.

The more you practice self-hypnosis the better you become at it and the more powerful the results will be. Hypnosis isn’t a magic potion for getting perfect grades with no effort. You still have to learn and understand the material your instructor gives you. Hypnosis, however, can help you focus, recall information, and increase your confidence while taking exams.

Author's Bio: 

Michele P. Rousseau is a practicing hypnotist in Middletown, Connecticut. Her website is