Study: Exam nerves can have a massive impact on careers

one in four of those affected could not take up their dream job because of exam nerves.

•   Almost 9 out of 10 Germans have experienced exam nerves; almost two-thirds of them during school and/or university.
•   Hardly anyone makes use of help offers - although the effects of anxiety can be serious.
•   Almost half of those affected feel that their anxiety is not taken seriously.
•   For more than half, too high self-expectations are a major reason for their test anxiety.

Erfurt, 17. November 2022 - According to a recent study by IU International University of Applied Sciences (IU), test anxiety can have serious consequences for the professional future of those affected: 26.8 percent of those surveyed for whom test anxiety had an impact were unable to choose their desired profession due to the anxiety. And 41 percent of the respondents even failed to obtain a certain school or university degree because of their test anxiety - for example, because they dropped out of school or university.

42 percent of the respondents who were affected by exam nerves had incurred additional costs - for example, because exams had to be repeated at a cost.

Almost every student has experienced exam nerves

The study shows that 9 out of 10 Germans (86.8 percent) have already suffered from test anxiety. Most of the respondents (64.7 percent) experienced it during school or university. 47.1 percent felt test anxiety in the context of a job application, closely followed by anxiety during vocational training (45.9 percent).

The surprising thing: Although the fear of exam situations is so widespread, hardly anyone takes advantage of help. Just 14.1 percent of respondents with test anxiety sought support to do something about their anxiety - most of them (53.4 percent) from friends and family; 39.8 percent even went to psychological psychotherapy as a result. (*)

Possible cause: Too high self-expectations

According to the survey, almost half of the respondents (45.8 percent) do not feel that their fears are taken seriously. As the number one reason for exam nerves, 53.8 percent of those affected said they had too high expectations of themselves (*).

"There is no other generation that compares itself as much as Generation Z," explains Anna Paulin Horwedel, who looks after students' worries as a Study Guide at the IU location in Mannheim. "On the one hand, this naturally stresses you out because you feel like you're constantly in competition. On the other hand, it raises the inhibition threshold to get help - because the others don't seem to need it either," Hordwedel continues.

More than a third want to cope with exam nerves alone

49.5 percent of those affected believe their exam nerves are not bad enough to seek help. 38.6 percent would like to manage exam nerves on their own (*).

A momentous fallacy, as Horwedel explains: "The sooner you seek help, the better. Feeling left alone with such a situation creates emotional stress and only intensifies the whole thing. The risk of a mental block - a so-called blackout - that can occur during the exam increases. In an exchange with experts, the problem should be tackled at its root to find the trigger for the anxiety. If the concrete cause, such as too much pressure due to the importance of the exam or internalised expectations from outside, is quickly found, a joint plan can be worked on - for example, to prepare for the exam in a more targeted way."

At IU International University of Applied Sciences, so-called study guides take care of the worries and needs of students in exam situations, among other things. Students in the dual study programme can turn to Anna Horwedel and her colleagues at any time and take advantage of the university's comprehensive offer of help.

* Respondents who have experienced exam nerves during school/studies or/and during vocational training.


Within the framework of the short study "Test Anxiety", 1,600 people between 16 and 65 years of age were interviewed - representatively distributed according to age and gender identity.

Anna Paulin Horwedel, Study Guide at the Mannheim location of IU International University of Applied Sciences.


With over 100,000 students, IU International University of Applied Sciences (IU) is the largest university in Germany. The private, state-approved educational institution with its main campus in Erfurt brings together more than 200 bachelor's and master's programmes under one roof, which are offered in German or English. Students can choose between dual studies, distance learning and myStudies, which combines online and face-to-face events, and design their studies independently with the help of a digitally supported learning environment. In addition, IU enables further training and promotes the idea of lifelong learning. The aim of the university is to give as many people as possible worldwide access to personalised education. IU started operations in 2000 and is now represented in more than 30 German cities. It cooperates with over 15,000 companies and actively supports them in the development of their employees. The partners include Motel One, VW Financial Services and Deutsche Bahn. Further information at:

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