Reducing Pre-Test Anxiety

Unless you truly don’t care about your tests or grades, feeling a little anxious before a test is perfectly normal. It can even be beneficial as these feelings of nervousness can prompt you to study in an effort to be better prepared. However, anxiety, particularly the type that is experienced immediately before a test, can be so intense in some cases that it can hinder your test performance. The following tips can help ease those pre-exam jitters.

    • Stay positive: Negative thoughts can quickly cause panic to set in. Instead of thinking, “I’m not prepared. I’m going to forget everything and fail,” try to think more positively. “I’m going to do well on this test. I really studied hard, and I know my stuff” is a much more beneficial train of thought.
  • Avoid negativity: Just as you should avoid internal negativity, you should also avoid external negativity. When students are waiting to go into an exam room, some will inevitably be panicking about their lack of preparation and what they don’t know. This panic can be contagious so avoid these negative influences at all costs. Don’t participate in such conversations, and try not to listen to them.
  • Avoid cramming: When there are only a few minutes left before a test, there isn’t time to learn any new information. In other words, you know what you know. Cramming in an effort to learn a topic you didn’t have time to study or review will be ineffective, and can actually increase your pre-test anxiety.
  • Give yourself a pep talk: Remind yourself that you studied hard and prepared as best you could. Tell yourself that you’re actually looking forward to the test because it will give you an opportunity to demonstrate your knowledge and understanding. It may not be entirely true, but these positive pep talks will often reduce some of the anxiety that you feel.
  • Take deep breaths: As hard as it is to believe, deep breathing is one of the most effective stress management techniques around. Taking deep breaths is an effective way to relieve tension and stress because it sends signals to your brain and the rest of your body to relax. Close your eyes and take deep, slow breaths until you feel some of your anxiety melt away.


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