It’s just a test, right? So why do you get so nervous? For some students, taking a low-point pop quiz holds the same level of anxiety as taking the SATs. What gives?
Nobody likes taking tests. Even if you’ve studied hard, it’s normal to feel a little anxious. For some students, test anxiety can be so uncomfortable that it affects their performance.
Luckily, there are things you can do before and during the test to keep the anxiety at bay. It’s time to dominate your test scores!
Know the Symptoms
Do you know what test anxiety looks like? If you’ve had one of the following symptoms while taking a test, you probably have some form of test anxiety.
When you feel nervous, you’ve got a lot of adrenaline pumping through your body. As a result, nervous test takers sometimes start sweating a little during test time.
How to combat it:
Keep a cold water bottle nearby to cool you down. Also keep napkins or a small towel handy to dry off your hands.
You might not even realize you’re doing it, but fast, short breaths are a symptom of test anxiety. Shallow breaths don’t completely fill your lungs. As a result, your concentration dwindles and your anxiety increases.
How to combat it:
Throughout your test, take periodic deep breaths. Inhale, exhale.
Definitely not the ideal way to feel when you’re trying to ace a test. An upset stomach is common for some nervous test-takers. Sometimes you’re so nervous that you feel a bit nauseous. It takes your mind away from your test, which is not a good thing.
How to combat it:
Before the test, steer clear of any heavy foods. Stick to something light and nutritious.
Before the Test
Now you know how to treat the symptoms. But what if you could start curing your test anxiety before you even make it to the classroom? Start treating your test anxiety before the test. The more you prepare in advance, the calmer you’ll be when you sit down to complete the test.
Do you start feeling a little nervous leading up to the test date? It’s probably because you have studying to do, but you don’t know where to start.
First of all, don’t you dare wait until the last minute! That will only make you more nervous. Instead, come up with a study plan well before the test date. Set aside an amount of time to study each day so you can get into a rhythm.
Study the RIGHT Way
During your designated study time, use a study guide to keep your efforts organized. Your study guide will help you pinpoint which areas you need to spend some extra time on. Make sure you also avoid any distractions. Turn the TV off; put your cell phone on mute. A quiet, relaxed environment will help you focus on the task at hand.
Don’t psych yourself out before the test even begins! Leading up to the test date, try to calm yourself and alleviate some stress. You could:
- Practice yoga
- Read a good book before bed each night
- Listen to your favorite songs
- Eat some comfort food (we’re talking mac ‘n cheese or another favorite treat!)
- Treat yourself to a hot cup of tea
- Whatever relaxes you!
While you’re doing these things, focus on positive thinking. Remind yourself that tests are an opportunity to show your teachers what you’ve got. They’re never designed with your failure in mind at all!
On Test Day
We know what it feels like to wake up on the morning of a test day. It’s the first thought in your mind in the morning and it leaves you feeling a little uneasy all day. Don’t let it phase you. Now is the perfect time to put your anxiety to bed.
You might feel the urge to pull out your study guides and start jamming every word into your brain. Don’t do it! This kind of studying just feeds your anxiety. Instead, do some light studying for an hour or two. Remember this is just a review – you already did your studying ahead of time! Aren’t you glad you prepared?
If your anxiety is really bothering you, try some positive thinking. First, remind yourself that you’ve done all you can to prepare for this test. Accept that, at this point, there’s nothing more that you can do to better your chances. What’s the worst that could happen if you fail? It won’t be the end of the world. Once you come to that realization, it might make you feel a little better.
Some light exercise is a great way to reduce stress, if you have the time. Take a walk around campus or head to the gym for a quick, thirty minute workout. Your brain functions better when you’re active.
During the Test
Even with all the preparation in the world, you still might find yourself nervous on test day. Not to worry. These tips will help you manage your anxiety and make it through the test in one piece.
When you’re so nervous that you feel physically uncomfortable, you might feel the urge to hurry though the test questions. This always backfires. You might think that you’re answering questions correctly, but you could be missing something. Take the time to go back, re-read the questions and make sure you’re answering the question in full.
Keep the Pace
That said, you don’t have all the time in the world. Many tests are timed or must be completed before the class is over. So you can’t spend too much time on a single question. If you find yourself stumped by a particular question, come back to it later.
Test anxiety causes you to feel a little jittery, which messes with your concentration. To help, you’ll need to relieve some tension. To do so, practice deep breathing throughout the test. You can also do some light stretching in your chair.
With these tips, hopefully you can settle your nerves and conquer every test! Sure, you’re going to get a little anxious from time to time. But just remember that no test reflects directly on who you are as a person. We know you’ll do great – but even if your test results aren’t what you hoped, keep your head up.