It’s called test anxiety. And it is very real. While it is normal for all students to experience some nervousness before a major test, those with test anxiety experience such extreme nervousness that they cannot function during the exam.
Test anxiety manifests in both physical and mental ways. Physically, the heart begins to race; nausea, sweating, shortness of breath, and feeling faint can set in. Some students have full-blown panic attacks.
Emotionally and mentally, students may have racing thoughts, draw a complete mental blank, be unable to focus, and experience extreme fear or a sense of helplessness.
When test anxiety hits, students become powerless, and days or weeks of study and preparation go down the drain. They ultimately do poorly on the exam.
If this sounds a bit like what you go through, you are going to need to find ways to fight your anxiety and get to a more mentally even state as you face exams. Here are 11 tips to help you do just that.
Long Before the Test
- Begin Studying Early
As you attend classes, take notes, and complete assignments, start reviewing these smaller chunks of material, so you are not trying to cram all the content in the day and night before. If you do this, the final content review before the test won’t sound or feel so unfamiliar. You will be able to say, “Oh yeah, I remember this,” and that alone brings on some self-confidence.
- Look at Your Other Obligations for the Few Days Prior to the Exam(s)
Think about final exam week and a couple of weeks before it. What happens? You have essays and papers due at the same time you should be studying. This in itself can cause huge anxiety. It may be time to get some writing help from a professional service to get that paper out of the way. Check out Edubirdie as a possibility. You won’t have to choose between doing a good job on that paper or getting in enough study time for the exam. The right time management and tasks delegation will help to manage it!
- Keep Yourself Mentally and Physically Healthy
Eat right. Get as many good nights’ sleep as possible. Engage in physical activity every day, even if it is just brisk walking. The long-term effects on the mind and body will prove beneficial.
Research shows that over the long haul, this lifestyle provides much great energy, good weight control, and, probably most important for you, a healthier brain. More blood and oxygen get to the brain, producing clearer thinking. And the boost in endorphins reduces stress.
- Discover You Own Calming Techniques
Some students get a mental picture that calms them – floating on a raft in a lagoon, perhaps. Other students practice tightening and then loosening muscles. Still, others use some of the most common mental Yoga practices – deep breathing, for example. Try these out and identify those that work best for you.
- Study Prior Tests from the Class
Most professors have the same testing format for all of their exams. Look over these earlier tests, so you remember the format that you will face this time. You’ll be more relaxed if you know what types of questions to expect.
The Night Before and Day of the Exam
- Do One Last Review of your Study N
Talk out loud to yourself. Seeing and hearing gets that content cemented better. Do this as early in the evening as possible.
- Go to Bed! Get a Decent Amount of S
Arianna Huffington, journalist and owner of Huffington Post, learned about the impact of lack of sleep first-hand. She has written a book about it.
A tired body and mind do not boost memory, clear thinking, and natural “feel good” chemicals. Being tired the day of the exam can negate all of those healthy lifestyle activities you have been engaging in. Seven hours is a good target.
- Eat Something Healthy the Morning of the T
Avoid too much caffeine or energy drinks. Caffeine will make you jittery and nervous, and those energy drinks are full of it and sugar. The energy you get is short-lived, and then you crash. Granola bars and healthy “energy” snacks will last far longer. Get some protein in your system.
- Take Water with you to Keep Yourself Hydrated
Research shows that staying hydrated is critical to keep your body and mind active and balanced. Without it, you will become lethargic and mentally slowed down. Plus, one symptom of test anxiety can be “dry mouth.” You want to eliminate all issues and distractions.
- Get There E
You will want time for your calming techniques before the exam begins. And to find a seat that suits you best. Do you like being by a window? Are you better upfront or in the back? Being able to find a seat that makes you more comfortable is important.
During the Test
- Use Your Calming Techniques
If you feel yourself becoming anxious, stop and practice those calming techniques that you have identified as working for you. Do them until you feel a greater sense of calm.
- Skip the Questions that are an Issue (for now)
Move down the test and answer those questions you are totally confident about. Each one of those will be a boost to your self-confidence. With that greater self-confidence, you can tackle the tougher questions in a better frame of mind.
It is Over
So, the exam is finally over, and you are ready to move forward. Or are you? If you spend lots of time ruminating about questions you may have gotten wrong, you are just setting yourself up for more test anxiety in the future. Let it all go. You did your best, and hopefully, these tips helped.