What it Means If You Dream About Being Unprepared for a Test or Important Event

A psychologist and a dreams expert break down why you may dream about being unprepared for a test or job interview.

Many of us will, at some point, dream about being unprepared for a test or important event. Whether it’s an exam, a job interview, or a work presentation, it’s safe to say these sorts of dreams can be quite unsettling. This is particularly true if the dream centers around a test or exam, because – let’s be honest – even the most studious among us are likely glad that that sort of school-setting is a thing of the past.

For many people, this sort of dream can leave us with a serious sense of dread. We spoke to Manuela Schmitten, a psychologist at Inner Space Psychology and Inbaal Honigman, a psychic and dreams expert, for their takes on what it means what it means if you dream about being unprepared for a test or important event.

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It could signify some underlying anxiety

Woman with Anxiety

Dreaming of turning up to school, only to find out that there’s an important exam happening and you haven’t prepared, is quite a common theme in dreams. The panic of finding out new information, the horror of feeling unprepared, and the fear of consequence, are all themes which carry across an entire genre of dreams, like arriving to work in our pajamas or turning up for an office presentation without our notes.

“These dreams are anxiety dreams, and tap into a tendency to visualize the worst-case scenario,” says Honigman. If this sounds familiar, it’s worth looking at where in your life you might tend to catastrophize when stressed or anxious, and taking steps — such as practicing self-compassion and focusing on the here and now — to combat such negative thoughts.

It might be because you’re feeling vulnerable

“Having a dream about being unprepared – whether for a wedding or a work event – may be revealing your feelings of vulnerability about something going on in your life, particularly if you’re in a transitional period,” says Schmitten. “Ironically, this sort of dreams often occurs more frequently in people who tend to perform well and usually err on the side of being well-prepared.”

Take a step back and really sit with anything that’s making you feel exposed, whether in your personal or professional life. Start implementing new practices that will help you overcome these feelings.

“Something as simple as keeping a journal is a great way to overcome fears around vulnerability and goes a long way towards helping to cultivate self-love and growth,” adds Schmitten.  

It could indicate low self-confidence

Woman Overwhelmed at Work

There’s no doubt about it: a dream about being unprepared for work can feel like more of a nightmare, especially if you have an important project or presentation due. It can also be a sign that you’re feeling overwhelmed or stressed about your job.

“This sort of dream could be a reflection of anxiety you might be currently feeling at work, and it could be that your psyche is using this dream as a warning that you are experiencing a high level of anxiety,” says Schmitten.

If your current role is causing you undue stress, try speaking to someone you trust to flag any concerns you might have. After all, while we may not love our jobs all the time, they certainly shouldn’t be manifesting as nightmares!

Lucy Pearson
Lucy Pearson is a freelance writer, book blogger and host of The Bondi Literary Salon based in Bondi. Read more
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