10 Techniques to Help You Deal with Test Anxiety
Anxiety happens to people as young as grade school students, to as old as college students or even adults. It’s the thing a person experiences when he/she feels excessive worry and dread, suffers from poor concentration, and exhibits signs of emotionality that turn into excessive sweating, lightheadedness, shortness of breath, rapid heartbeat, dry mouth, nausea, and even stomach aches. When things like these happen before, during or after taking a test or exam, it’s a psychological condition called test anxiety.
Test anxiety doesn’t necessarily happen to kids who don’t study. Most of the time, anxiety affects even the best of students, freezing up during exams and forgetting everything they learned or studied about a particular subject. When you’re anxious, it can be difficult to perform your best. Fortunately, you can avoid or manage test anxiety if you follow certain practices, but it will take time, determination and treatment. Here are 10 techniques you can use to keep stress in check for you next big test:
1) Study – The most important thing to do is to prepare for an exam. Throughout the semester, come to class every day, take down notes, do all assignments, read, research and spend more than enough time studying. Lack of preparation can make you double nervous, which could lead to feeling anxious. It is important to develop your own time management plan. This way, you can prepare for exams ahead and keep studies and personal activities balanced.
2) Use Preview Exams – Most professors provide sample questions before a test. While you study for an exam, use the format of these sample questions to quiz yourself. If a teacher fails to provide you with samples questions, check your textbooks for end-of-chapter questions, write some questions based on your reading and use these throughout your study period. If you prefer to study in a group, you can use these questions to help others by quizzing one another.
3) Think positive and visualize success – Some people may find it cheesy, but visualization work on some people. It’s a great way to build confidence, and remember certain details of your studies. You can associate objects with topics, which helps in cementing information in your memory. Thinking positive can be easy when you’re prepared for an exam.
4) Sleep well and Take care of Your Body – Although test anxiety is a psychological condition, it manifests physically as well. Tense muscles, breathing problems, headaches, perspiration and other conditions occur when you feel anxious. Avoid cramming and all-nighters at all costs. Giving your body a full night’s rest before an exam can help not only physically, but also mentally. You should also eat breakfast, even if you’re not used to. Vegetables and fruits have been known to reduce stress. If possible, avoid drinking coffee to prevent feeling jittery when taking the test. A quick exercise can also help get your blood flowing and heart beating faster.
5) Review Notes in a Quiet Place – When you arrive school and you’re brushing up on your notes, choose a quiet spot. Even if you’re used to loud music, your brain can digest information in a peaceful setting without distractions.
6) Keep Calm – Before and during the test, it is important to stay calm. Stress impairs memory, and there’s nothing more destructive than to be overwhelmed before the test. Look up some stress relief techniques (such as breathing, meditating, or visualization) that work for you. If you panic or become overwhelmed anytime before and during the test, use the technique to stay calm. During the test, if you see other test-takers finish before you, don’t try to speed up your answers. Maintain your speed, read questions carefully and answer them the best way you can.
7) Avoid talking to people – Regardless of how prepared you are for a test, other people may scare you into believing you know nothing. Imagine studying ahead, sleeping enough, eating breakfast and going to school with you A game, only to be discouraged when a classmate asks you a question about the only single thing you did not know. This may sound simple, but most students panic and lose their confidence quickly, causing them to worry about everything they’ve learned and jumble up their thoughts just to answer that one question. To avoid this, stop talking to people about anything related to the test.
8) Encourage yourself – While taking the test, remind yourself that you are in control. Take slow, deep breaths to relax your body and mind. Don’t think about the person next to you who looks like a scared child. Talk inside your head and use positive reinforcement, acknowledging that you are doing your best and you have nothing to fear about. Although anxiety is inevitable when taking tests, use this in your favor and manage it based on what stress-reducing techniques work for you. When you’re done answering all questions, don’t be too confident. Instead, review each question and answers, edit mistakes you might have committed and if time permits, review again.
9) It’s only a test – Pressure to avoid failure can be overwhelming. Remember that the earlier and more you prepare for a test, the easier it is to succeed in passing. If you’ve done your part and you remain calm during your test, you’ll be able to answer what you know and show off your true potential in class. If it doesn’t go well, it isn’t the end of the world. But learn from your mistakes and study harder next time.
10) If nothing else works – If you find yourself doing all techniques to reduce stress and anxiety, but still experience test anxiety when the test papers come your way, you may need professional help. You first have to acknowledge that you have a problem and seek help, either through tutoring centers in school, or campus counselors. Remember that thousands of students go through the same thing you are experiencing now. A good counselor can determine if you need counseling or medications.
Taking tests are never fun, but these tests don’t have to be a nightmare. Learn what technique works for you and use it to your advantage.