Test Anxiety

Feeling anxious, nervous, or upset before taking an exam is a common occurrence for many test takers. However, sometimes this text anxiety can be so severe that it can negatively affect how the student performs on the exam. Even if the student is fully prepared to take the test, anxiety can lead to low scores. Fortunately, there are proven techniques that can help students overcome this test anxiety so they can perform at their full ability.

Building your confidence is a major step towards reducing text anxiety. One way to do this is to make sure you are completely and fully prepared to take the exam. Did you review all notes, readings, handouts, and other materials? Did you allow enough time to study for the exam? Cramming for hours the night before or staying up all night to try to prepare will only leave you overwhelmed and exhausted, which will actually lead to more anxiety. The night before the exam it is helpful to organize all of the materials you will need to take the test. Searching for a pen or pencil minutes before the test begins is a sure way to throw yourself out of sorts and create unnecessary anxiety.

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The night before the exam make sure you receive enough sleep so that you are not groggy or tired. Being well rested will allow you to maximize your concentration and focus. Eat a balanced meal before the test, as being hungry will distract you from the exam. Make sure that you give yourself plenty of time to get ready and travel to the test site. Having a few minutes to spare will allow you to organize your materials before the exam and review anything you may feel unsure of. Being rushed will automatically force your body into an anxious state, which will carry over when you are taking the test. Once you are inside the testing room, pick a seat away from distractions, including fellow students who may be complaining about not being prepared or otherwise expressing negative feelings.

Before you begin the test, take a few slow, deep breaths to relax your body. Begin by thoroughly reading all of the directions so you are confident in what they are asking you to do. Give yourself enough time on each section so that you are not forced to rush in order to finish on time. On the other hand, use all of the time given to you and go back and check your answers. If you do not know the answer to a question, skip it and go back later. Never leave an answer blank. Even if you do not think you know the answer to the question, guessing (especially at multiple choice questions) gives you a chance at getting it correct; leaving it blank guarantees you get the question wrong.

If you begin to feel anxious during the exam, take control of the situation by realizing that some anxiety is completely normal. Shift your position, roll your shoulders, and take deep breaths to relax your body. Reassure yourself that you are prepared for the exam and that you do know the answers. And finally, instead of focusing on the anxiety, focus on moving through the exam, one question at a time.


Last Updated: May 31, 2019