Learning can be challenging at times – even scary.
But discovering how to manage that fear leads to growth, both as a student and a person.
If you’re looking for ways to overcome the fear of learning, you’re in the right place.
During childhood, resilience comes naturally. For example, toddlers learning to walk fall hundreds of times before they’re able to walk.
Yet they don’t give up and decide that they should just permanently go back to crawling.
Many students develop a fear of learning when they start taking tests and exams in school. The emphasis on getting good grades rather than on the process of learning can increase anxiety and stress in students.
It can begin to feel like the effort isn’t worth it. This is how the fear of learning can prevent students from pursuing meaningful goals and dreams.
This article will show you how to overcome this fear. Let’s begin by exploring how the fear of learning develops.
(But first, make sure to download your quick action guide below!)
Do you have a fear of learning?
Originating from the Greek word Sophia – meaning “wisdom” or “knowledge” – sophophobia is the fear of learning.
According to Healthline, a phobia is an excessive and irrational fear reaction. When confronted with the source of your fear, you may enter a state of panic and experience feelings of dread.
If you have a fear of learning, you may:
- Feel uneasy before tests and exams
- Lose focus when you’re studying
- Feel uncomfortable about answering questions in class
- Worry that you won’t be able to perform well academically
In addition to interfering with your studying, the fear of learning can affect your quality of life and future prospects.
Let’s break it down further to the fear of exams and the fear of studying. Let’s start with the fear of exams.
Fear of exams
Do you feel like you forget everything you’ve studied as soon as you sit down to take a test?
Or do exams make you feel nervous or even unwell?
When it comes to exams, students often place too much emphasis on the grade or outcome rather than the process. Feelings of overwhelm develop as the pressure builds, which can ruin your concentration during exams.
As expected, this gets in the way of being calm, present, and relaxed.
The key to overcoming the fear of exams is to shift your mindset. Focus on doing the things within your control: studying effectively, doing enough practice questions, getting enough rest, and eating right.
You can also learn how to relieve stress before a test so you can be a calmer, happier, and more successful student.
Focus on learning the necessary information and mastering the key concepts. Whatever the result, you’ll know you put in an excellent effort. From there, you can find ways to adjust your studying strategies to reduce your anxiety.
Fear of studying
As the exams approach, students become all too aware that they should be studying. For many students, this is when fear starts to build.
Sleep issues, unhealthy food choices, and stress can influence how focused you are when studying. These factors can also increase the negative emotional associations you have with studying.
Research shows that stressful experiences affect learning and memory processes. It’s common for cortisol – the stress hormone – to kick in when you have an important exam or deadline coming up.
Many students turn to avoidance as a coping mechanism. But the better approach is to take control of negative feelings by applying effective study strategies.
Start by identifying your bad study habits and changing them one by one.
How to overcome the fear of learning
Fear can be a motivator for success, but the key is to never let fear take control. You must take productive action despite the fear.
Here are the five steps to overcome the fear of learning:
1. Identify and understand the fear
To overcome the fear of learning, you must specifically identify what causes you to feel afraid.
Students often experience the fear of failure, fear of blanking out during exams, or fear of being unable to meet deadlines or expectations.
Take a step back so you can identify the fear, assess it, and determine what’s at the root of it.
2. Create a plan
Once you understand the fear, create a plan to work through it. This plan should be practical and actionable.
Write down a list of specific actions you plan to take. For example, you might decide that you will:
- Read through your class notes once you get home from school every day
- Do at least three practice tests/exams before every test/exam
- Review all of your graded assignments
- Make flashcards for specific subjects
When you focus on what you can control, you won’t feel as afraid.
3. Implement and refine the plan
When it comes to dealing with the fear of learning, you need to implement your plan and break it down into manageable chunks.
For example, if you have a biology exam coming up, you might decide that you’ll review all your class notes twice. You’ll also do three timed practice exams.
As you study, highlight anything you have questions about or need clarification on from your teacher. Change up the memory techniques that you use too.
Implement these strategies gradually to avoid feeling overwhelmed.
It’s also easier to avoid feeling overwhelmed if you do things in smaller chunks.
For example, if you have an upcoming math exam, you can start by choosing 15 practice questions for each topic that you’ll be tested on. Each time you get to work, choose just five practice questions and focus on completing them – don’t worry about the rest of the questions. You’ll get to them eventually during your upcoming study sessions.
4. Don’t be in a hurry
If you feel pressured to make many huge changes now, it will lead to underperformance. You may also find that your fear of learning has increased!
Give yourself time to put your plan into practice, and make progress at a comfortable pace. Set aside time each day to study, review your notes, and visualize yourself calmly taking the test.
Remember that school and life aren’t a competition. Put one step in front of the other, and you’ll eventually reach your destination without burning out.
5. Develop a process-oriented mindset
We all like rewards. In fact, you may have a routine in place where you give yourself a reward after completing each assignment.
There’s nothing wrong with using this approach once in a while. But if you overdo it, your intrinsic motivation will decrease because you’ll be too focused on the reward and the outcome.
Reframe your approach to focus on the process instead. Find joy in the process of learning and attaining mastery. When you acquire knowledge and understand concepts, be satisfied with the progress you’re making on your journey of education.
This is easier said than done, but it will pay off in the long run, both in terms of better grades and greater fulfillment.
To become more process-oriented, don’t tell yourself that something is “too hard.” Instead, tell yourself that it’s an opportunity to challenge yourself and grow.
As you change your thoughts and perspective, your fear of learning will diminish.
Fear is a normal and natural part of life.
But as the title of Susan Jeffers’ bestselling book recommends, we ought to feel the fear and do it anyway.
If you follow the 5 steps outlined in this article, you’ll be on your way to managing and overcoming your fear of learning.
Today’s the day to get started!