Managing Test Anxiety/Test Taking Tips
- Prepare well in advance. Keep up day to day. Avoid last minute cramming. Aim for 7-8 hours of sleep the night before a major exam. Eat good nutritious food and bring a high energy snack to the test. Relax and compose yourself prior to the exam.
- Know time and place of the test and what you will need to bring. Be on time, neither late nor too early (panic is contagious). Plan so you can approach the test with a leisurely, confident step. Have EXTRA PENS or PENCILS with you. A second color pen can be useful for late additions to essay questions.
- Avoid quizzing each other just before the exam. Don't talk with classmates immediately beforehand if you know it raises your anxiety level. To do so may nourish group paranoia.
- PLAN YOUR APPROACH. Read all directions carefully. Survey the entire test, getting a "birds-eye" view of the entire exam. Budget your time according to point values of various questions. Start with questions that you KNOW and come back to questions that you are unsure about.
- Ask for clarification. If you have questions about directions or procedures: ASK!! Don't let anxiety build up because you aren't sure about some parts of the test.
- Pay attention to the test, not to yourself or others. Avoid doubting yourself, wondering how other people are doing, or blaming yourself. Pay attention to what you CAN do now.
- Activity reduces anxiety. If you go blank and can't think of anything to write, go to another question or another part of the test. On an essay, jot down anything you can recall ... in order stimulate your memory and get your mind working.
- Relax yourself physically during the test. If you notice that you are not thinking well or you are tight ... pause, lay your test aside, and take several slow, deep breaths. Concentrate on your breathing. Try saying to yourself: "I will do my very best on this exam. I am proud of my effort today on this exam. I can and will remember what I know."
- Keep learning study skills and test techniques. With practice, these will come naturally for you.
Marcus Flathman, Ph.D.