How To Gently Kick Test Anxiety In The Face

His palms are sweaty, knees weak, arms are heavy

There’s vomit on his sweater already, mom’s spaghetti

If you suddenly become like Eminem and lose yourself before or during a test, rest assured that even the greats suffer from anxious feelings. Not to worry. Nervousness is like a common cold—everyone gets it, and it’s usually over fairly quickly. But being nervous doesn’t mean you have to call in sick. Here are three tips for overcoming test anxiety.

  1. Replicate testing conditions (aka Practice!) For tests with a strong procedural setting (like that SAT or ACT), being familiar with the test format and environment makes for smooth sailing on test day. It helps to take a few (or a bunch of) practice tests in a mock testing environment at home or in Exam Club. Of course, no practice test sitting is going to command the same gravity as the actual test day, but knowing what’s in store gives you an immense advantage.
  2. Minimize the unknown (a.k.a Study!) The anxiety you feel about an upcoming test may come from fear of the unknown or uncontrollable. Some aspects of testing, like the competence of your proctor, may be out of your control. However, you can control your own readiness by studying until you are fully confident in your understanding of the material. Being well-prepared is the best guarantee you can give yourself.
  3. Practice self care (a.k.a. Be nice to yourself!). Before the test: listen to music, hang out with friends, sleep, exercise, bake, have a cup of tea, talk to your family, bury yourself in the ground and pretend to be a carrot… whatever floats your boat. Additionally, it’s important to not just engage in healthy activities, but to engage in healthy thinking. Sure, some tests are pretty important. But your development as a strong, dynamic, capable, smart, caring, kind individual is even more important. It’s not the end of the world if you do badly on a test. It never is! Don’t beat yourself up.

Sometimes, you may exhibit physical signs of nervousness even though you may feel, for the most part, mentally centered. It’s okay (and normal) to experience this kind of temporary anxiety. Try to channel that anxious energy into answering questions.

Hope this post helped! On test day, hopefully you’ll be able to say, “I’m not afraid.”

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