10 ways to do away with test anxiety

Taking a test, especially a very important one, can be extremely stressful. Don't worry, you aren’t the only one who gets knots in their stomach before a big exam. Here are some helpful hints to keep you calm and focused before you hit the classroom. 

1. Know what you are getting yourself into.

Study, and study hard. Knowing exactly what is coming next and what kind of information is going to be presented will help you reduce stress, plan out your time and score your highest.


2. Get a good night’s sleep.

Getting a good night’s rest before a test is be extremely important. Not getting enough sleep can be a major contributing factor to test anxiety. So turn the lights off a bit earlier than usual and relax.

3. Do yoga.

Wake up a few minutes earlier the morning of to make time for a yoga sequence or two. Doing yoga will wake you up, help you stay calm and, for some, it's way more zen than a morning jog. 

4. Come prepared.

Lay out all the materials you will need for the test the night before. Then, when you wake up, you have plenty of time to get dressed, eat a good breakfast and relax before you dive into the first question. 

5. Choose a location you are comfortable with.

With tests like the SAT and the ACT, you can choose the location (usually a local school) that you're going to take the test. While it may not always be an option, if possible, choose a location you have been before so you can easily find your testing room and feel comfortable in your surroundings. If it's a regular test at your school, try to get to the classroom a few minutes earlier than usual so you have your choice of seats. If you're late, you could get stuck in the back row or near someone you're not too fond of, which can cause more stress.  

6. Take five deep breaths.

While the tests are being passed out, close your eyes and take five deep breaths. These is your last few moments before seeing all the questions, so it’s important to sit back, relax and lower your heart rate. 

7. Take it step-by-step.

Sometimes the most stressful part of the test is the length of it, but it helps to mentally break the test down into sections. For example, if there are four concepts covered on the test, think of each concept as its own. Only think of the section you are completing at that time. Once you complete a section, take a 30 second break and dive into the next one.

8. Use self talk.

Since it’s probably completely silent during the test, it’s time to be your own cheerleader. It may seem cheesy, but telling yourself “I can do it!” every few minutes will boost your confidence. And what’s wrong with having confidence? (cue Demi Lovato). 

9. Take your time and read carefully.

It may be hard to stay focused during longer tests, but you have to pay attention. Take your time and read all the directions carefully. Silly mistakes will only make you feel worse and if you have to go back and fix them, it will take more time. 

10. Accept mistakes.

That being said, everyone makes mistakes. So no matter how much you prepare, there is still a chance you will get a question wrong. It’s important to remember that you tried your hardest and even though you made a few mistakes, one low test score is not the end of the world.

Do you get anxious before a test? What do you do to calm your nerves?


by Emily Mullin | 8/29/2016
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