Failing The Test Dream

Today, we’re failing the test!

Why do we have these dreams?

School is one of the most common locations for dreams because we all have experience going to school in some capacity. A lot of people report dreams about running late to school, they can’t find their classroom, or they didn’t do their homework. Even if we’re not currently a student, it’s such an easy way for our brains to symbolize and express stress about real life. We’ll be looking at these specific topics in later episodes, but today we will be looking at what it means when a dreamer fails a test! Ready for a dad joke? This dream topic is literally textbook.

Picture it, you’re in a classroom. You’re taking a test. Your teacher is sitting at the front of the room. The clock is ticking. The beads of sweat form at your temples and drip onto the page. Guess what! THIS ISN’T A DREAM this is real life. Cause you know what? News flash: tests suck!

The pressure of standardized tests starts at an early age. Without even taking the test, you have to write your name directly in those little boxes, fill in the circles completely, follow the directions, use a number two pencil - I mean is that true? Can you use a black or blue pen?! I’m serious I don’t know. I’m going to have a stress dream about this now! And then the pressure of your performance on the test and how you will do in life - it’s really hard for kids!

It’s no surprise that tests come up as frequent plot devices in dreams. Oftentimes, dreamers report that they must take a test and they haven’t prepared for it, or they prepared for it but didn’t show up on time, or they’re prepared for the test and it’s in a foreign language or complete gibberish.

What is this about? What is going on in our lil precious brains!? Exams or tests in dreams are referred to as “obstacle dreams”. Other common obstacle dreams include being chased or hunted or solving a puzzle. According to The Dream Dictionary by Lady Stearn Robinson and Tom Gorbett, “Examinations are the classic daddy of obstacle dreams.” They say, “If you failed the examination, the dream is telling you that your ambitions are beyond your ability and you would benefit from a change of goal.” But on the flip side, “If you pass the exam easily or it presented no major problems to you, it predicts comfortable achievement of all your hopes.” I don’t know that this interpretation is totally off, but it doesn’t leave room for the gray area.

A lot of sources say that test dreams reveal an anxiety of literally being tested or scrutinized about something in your waking life, or that you are feeling unprepared or are afraid of failing. Or maybe your goals or expectations are too high.

How might one interpret these dreams?

If the dream was a negative experience, think about anything that may be causing you stress or anxiety in your real life. Did you recently give a presentation or host a meeting where you felt unprepared? Or maybe you’ve got something on the horizon that you’re worried about? As Beyonce says, "If you like it then you shoulda put a name on it!" And by "put a name on it", I mean putting a name on your anxieties. This is healthy to do with anxieties in general, dreaming or not - putting a name to your anxiety makes them smaller. It doesn’t mean that they’ll go away, but you have reclaimed power over the anxiety, and with time and practice, it will hopefully stay at bay.

Dreams are great, truly, they are the bridges that connect your subconscious fears to your conscious mind!!

Don't forget, you can send your dreams to us at (with two zz’s!) You can also check us out on instagram and facebook.

Sleep tight! And remember, don’t let the test dreams bite! Night night!

Amelia & Cecilia

Show Notes/Sources:

Dreamer’s Dictionary, Lady Stearn Robinson and Tom Corbett, 1986

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