Beyond the Books
How to Conquer Test Anxiety
Most students experience some level of anxiety during an exam. However, when anxiety affects exam performance it can become a problem.
General preparation/building confidence:
Review your personal situation and skills
Developing good study habits and strategies
Managing time(dealing with procrastination, distractions, laziness). Organizing material to be studied and learned
Take a step by step approach to build a strategy and not get overwhelmed. Outside pressures success/failure consequences (grades, graduation), peer pressure, competitiveness, etc.
Reviewing your past performance on tests to improve and learn from experience
Test preparation to reduce anxiety:
Approach the exam with confidence:
Use whatever strategies you can to personalize success: visualization, logic, talking to your self, practice, team work, journaling, etc.
View the exam as an opportunity to show how much you've studied and to receive a reward for the studying you've done
Learn your material thoroughly and organize what materials you will need for the test. Use a checklist
Choose a comfortable location for taking the test with good lighting and minimal distractions
Allow yourself plenty of time, especially to do things you need to do before the test and still get there a little early
Avoid thinking you need to cram just before
Strive for a relaxed state of concentration. Avoid speaking with any fellow students who have not prepared, who express negativity, who will distract your preparation
A program of exercise is said to sharpen the mind
Get a good night's sleep the night before the exam
Don't go to the exam with an empty stomach.
Fresh fruits and vegetables are often recommended to reduce stress.
Stressful foods can include processed foods, artificial sweeteners, carbonated soft drinks, chocolate, eggs, fried foods, junk foods, pork, red meat, sugar, white flour products, chips and similar snack foods, foods containing preservatives or heavy spices
Take a small snack, or some other nourishment to help take your mind off of your anxiety
Avoid high sugar content (candy)
Read the directions carefully
Budget your test taking time
Change positions to help you relax
If you go blank, skip the question and go on
If you're taking an essay test and you go blank on the whole test, pick a question and start writing. It may trigger the answer in your mind
Don't panic when students start handing in their papers. There's no reward for being the first done
Relax; you are in control. Take slow, deep breaths
Don't think about the fear
Pause: think about the next step and keep on task, step by step
Use positive reinforcement for yourself:
Acknowledge that you have done, and are doing, your best
Expect some anxiety
It's a reminder that you want to do your best and can provide energy
Just keep it manageable:
Realize that anxiety can be a "habit" and that it takes practice to use it as a tool to succeed
List what worked, and hold onto these strategies
It does not matter how small the items are - they are building blocks to success
List what did not work for improvement
Celebrate that you are on the road to overcoming this obstacle
Check out local centers and resources in your school for assistance!
After the test, review how you did:
If you are aware that you have a problem with test anxiety, be sure your teacher or instructor knows before any testing begins (and not the hour before!). There may be other options to evaluate your knowledge or performance within the subject matter.
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