Everyone gets at least a little anxious before a test. It’s normal!
But some folks get more nervous than others. Text anxiety is definitely a monster to deal with, but it absolutely can be beaten!
Here are some study tips for overcoming test anxiety.
This is the most important way to beat test anxiety. Make sure you’re ready – study well in advance and don’t cram the night before. I’ve talked about why cramming is bad for you, but it’s even worse if you’re prone to test anxiety.
A night spent frantically studying for an early-morning test is wasted – not only are you unlikely to retain much information, you deprive yourself and your noggin of much-needed sleep! Study up beforehand and you’ll be much less stressed for the test.
I take back what I said about being prepared. This is probably the most important way to overcome test anxiety. Actually, it’s one of the study tips I list most often on this site.
Make sure you get plenty of sleep the night before and eat a healthy breakfast.
And by healthy I mean actually healthy. Nothing against Scottish food, but a low-carb breakfast burrito or something from the local McDonald’s is not what you want in your body the morning of a test. Stick to healthy stuff like fruit.
Also, a bit of exercise the morning of a test will help get the brain juices flowing. Nothing extravagant… a dozen pushups or jumping jacks will do wonders
Use good test taking strategies
I take back what I said about the other two being the best … these are all important!
Make sure you know how to take a test – I’ve got tons of tips on the other pages on this site. Knowing tactics and tricks like these can boost your confidence enormously.
Stuff like read all the directions carefully before you start. Start with easier questions and move up to harder ones as your confidence grows. Break things into chunks. Tips like that.
Don’t let other unprepared students drag you down with all their worrying and negativity. At the risk of seeming unsocial, stay away!
Also, practice saying affirming thoughts to yourself. It’ll feel weird, but seriously – standing in front of a mirror the day of your test, giving yourself the biggest, most confident grin you can and saying “You’re going to ACE this test!” does wonders for your confidence.
Granted, it doesn’t replace studying, but you sure do feel good!
It might be worth it to get one of those stress balls you can squeeze during the test.
Also, here’s a tip from a teacher: right before the test starts, grab the sides of your chair with both hands and squeeze hard. Repeat three or four times. This can help release a lot of stress!
Don’t panic and don’t worry
If you go blank, don’t panic!
Actually, don’t ever panic.
Just move on to the next question. If your mind just goes on a trip far far away, don’t worry. Just pick a question and a piece of scrap paper and start writing. This can often provide the jump-start your mind needs.
Also, if other students start handing in their tests and you’ve still got a way to go, don’t worry! There’s no reward for finishing quickly. Focus on your own work and do your best. It’s not a race!
Unless you and a friend made a bet before class. Why did you do that?? Stop doing that.
Make sure you’re phsyically relaxed too. Take a deep breath and change positions every once in a while.
Also, if you feel anxiety coming on, repeat an uplifting phrase to yourself. Something like “I can do this!” or “This test is a breeze!” or “DIE STUPID TEST!!!”
Well, maybe not the last one, but you get the idea.
I actually used a variant on this when I first took public speaking. If I had to give a speech, I’d listen to Viggo Mortensen’s “Aragorn’s Speech Before the Black Gate” from Lord of the Rings: Return of the King before class. It did wonders for my confidence, as did Kenneth Branaugh’s classic “St. Crispin’s Day Speech” from Henry V.
Point is: get inspired.
If nothing works
If you still have problems with overcoming test anxiety no matter what you do, even if you follow all these study tips and a lot more, you may want to see your school counselor.
Never give in to test anxiety!
Winston Churchill once said: “Never, never, in nothing great or small, large or petty, never give in.”
Overcoming test anxiety is a huge mountain to climb. But you can do it.
Never, ever, ever give in and … someday … you’ll beat it.
What do you think?
Do you struggle with test anxiety? What are some things you’ve done to beat it? What works? What doesn’t? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below!