The ACT and SAT exams can be daunting. Even if you study and prepare well, the anxiety of taking the actual test can be overwhelming. If you are a person who gets stressed out when taking tests, you need extra preparation so you can deal with that stress when you take the exams.
In order to manage your anxiety, you must first determine what your stressors are and exactly what gives you that anxiety in the first place. Do you have trouble focusing? Are you intimidated by the clock? Do difficult questions give you great problems? Once you answer these questions, you can attack your problem systematically.
If you have trouble focusing, approach it the same way you do with other problems. Talk yourself through it. Think about another problem that you overcame. For example, perhaps you were nervous about a job interview. In order to succeed, you persuaded yourself to relax, think clearly, and approach the interview in a confident matter. Do the same thing with your exam. Use those same techniques and you will find that it will be easier to focus.
If the clock intimidates you, you need to practice better time management. To do this, use your practice exams. Set a timer for the time that is allotted for each part of the exam. When the time is up, move to the next part. If you continue to do this, you will begin to think quicker and manage your time more efficiently.
If difficult questions give you great problems, then skip them when you take the test. You can always come back to them later if you have time. Remember that every question is worth the same amount. It doesn’t make sense to spend more time on a question that you will probably get wrong, making you lose time to answer three others that you will get right. You need to realize that if you answer all the other questions and get most of those correct, you will still do quite well despite getting a few wrong.
Counseling centers are also a good source for help with test anxiety. Individual and group therapy has shown to be very effective in aiding students who need help taking these exams. They may also be able to show you various relaxation techniques to help you calm down while taking the test. If you are interested in counseling, your guidance counselor should be able to point you in the right direction.
Finally, have a little fun with your test preparation. Reward yourself for making progress. For example, if you have trouble with time management, take a practice exam and try and finish within the allotted time. If you succeed, reward yourself by watching your favorite TV program, going out to eat, or something similar. Test preparation doesn’t have to be all hard work. Enjoy yourself a little bit.
If you follow these tips, you should be much more prepared when it comes time to take the ACT or SAT exam. And, hopefully, you will be more relaxed and focused, too.
For additional information, we recommend you check out these free ACT & SAT test resources: