Test Anxiety Tips


1. Stress is not necessarily bad.  It can give you the motivation to study and the energy to concentrate during a test.

2. Preparation is the single best way to avoid test anxiety.  Learn your material thoroughly and organize what materials you will need for the test ahead of time.

3. Create a practice test.  If possible, take it in the actual testing room.

4. Get a good night’s sleep the night before the exam.  Staying up late to cram will backfire!  Your brain and your body need time to rest before taking on the exam.

5. Approach the exam with confidence!  View the exam as an opportunity to show how much you’ve studied and to receive a reward for the hard work you’ve done.

6. Focus on just taking the test – not the final grade.

7. Think of the exam as a conversation with the professor.  Just tell him/her what you know.

8. Suck on a peppermint candy during the exam.  It will help you relax.

9. Take a few deep breaths before beginning the exam.  Repeat throughout the exam as needed.

10. Try writing out your testing worries before beginning the exam.  Recent research has shown that doing so can boost your performance on the exam.  All of your worries about the test can compete for your working memory and thus interfere with your ability to perform on the exam, so getting those worries out can help clear up some “memory space.”  Check out this article.

11. Change positions or stretch a few times throughout the exam.

12. Read all of the directions slowly and carefully.  Re-read them if you’re unsure about what to do or how to answer the question.

13. Skim the entire test before starting.  This will help you manage your time.

14. Do the easiest questions first.  These may provide clues to other questions - and answering them quickly and easily can boost your confidence.

15. If you go blank, don’t panic.  Just skip the question and move on.

16. If you find yourself thinking negative or anxious thoughts, silently shout to yourself "Stop!" or "Stop thinking about that!"  This interrupts the worry response before it can cause high anxiety or negative emotions.

17. Leave time to check over your test.

18. Don't panic when other students start handing in their exams.  There's no reward for being the first one done.

19. After the test, review how you did.  List what strategies worked for you, and plan to use them again.  List what did not work, and plan to try something new next time.  Ask questions.  Learn from the experience.  Move on.  Celebrate that you are on the road to overcoming this obstacle!