Tips To Overcome Test Anxiety
At times, it may seem impossible not to feel overwhelmed when it comes to taking tests, especially major exams like the Medical College Admission Test or the United States Medical Licensing Examination . Thankfully, you can practice some effective methods for overcoming test anxiety. Here are our top test anxiety tips for students you can use before taking a test:
- Reduce your caffeine intake.
- Regularly take meaningful breaks from studying.
- Get enough hours of sleep the night before the exam.
- Reflect on your identity outside of just being a medical student.
- Make time to practice mindfulness or meditate at least once a day.
- Think about your strengths and reflect on why you chose to become a doctor.
- Get an adequate amount of exercise throughout the week leading up to the exam.
One of the best ways to avoid test anxiety is to prepare in advance by setting aside an appropriate amount of time for studying before the test. Getting support from tutors can be extremely beneficial.
After using these effective strategies to prepare leading up to the test, you can use a different set of exam anxiety tips and techniques to manage your nervousness while taking the test:
What Can You Do
Test anxiety can be a real problem if you’re so stressed out over a test that you can’t get past the nervousness to focus on the test questions and do your best work. Feeling ready to meet the challenge, though, can keep test anxiety at a manageable level.
Use a little stress to your advantage. Stress is your body’s warning mechanism it’s a signal that helps you prepare for something important that’s about to happen. So use it to your advantage. Instead of reacting to the stress by dreading, complaining, or fretting about the test with friends, take an active approach. Let stress remind you to study well in advance of a test. Chances are, you’ll keep your stress from spinning out of control. After all, nobody ever feels stressed out by thoughts that they might do well on a test.
Ask for help. Although a little test anxiety can be a good thing, an overdose of it is another story. If sitting for a test gets you so stressed out that your mind goes blank and causes you to miss answers that you know, then your level of test anxiety probably needs some attention. Your teacher, a school guidance counselor, or a tutor can be good people to talk to test anxiety gets to be too much to handle
Watch what you’re thinking. If expecting to do well on a test can help you relax, what about if you expect you won’t do well? Watch out for any negative messages you might be sending yourself about the test. They can contribute to your anxiety.
How To Overcome Test Anxiety
Test anxiety is a type of performance anxiety in which fear of failure contributes to symptoms that interfere with your ability to perform well in an exam situation. Before a test, anyone can feel a bit anxious.
If you experience serious test anxiety, you may have physical symptoms such as a headache, nausea, diarrhea, shortness of breath, and light-headedness. You could even have a panic attack, during which you may feel like it’s hard to breathe or you may think you’re having a heart attack.
Feelings of anger, fear, and helplessness are other symptoms of test anxiety, as are thinking negatively and comparing yourself to others. If you experience test anxiety, there are a number of coping strategies that you can employ. Below are 10 tips to help you cope.
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How To Identify Performance Anxiety
Identifying symptoms is helpful in reducing the intensity of ones anxiety and can also be very validating. A young man I was working with used to love school until state testing practice started. His mother reported that at night he couldnt fall asleep, began complaining of stomach aches all day, and during the practice tests, he would freeze or start crying. This bright 11-year-old who used to love school was now avoiding it like the plague.
There is no reason he needs to feel this way, hes such a smart kid, said his teacher. The truth is, this is exactly what was not helping him. After he and I started talking, he let me know that these tests were all the teachers talked about. He was worried that he wouldnt get into college if he did poorly on his sixth-grade state test.
His environment was a huge factor in his anxiety and the manifestation of his symptoms. When we get honest with ourselves about what is going on externally, pressure from teachers, parents, colleagues or peers can make symptoms worse and reinforce worry.
When To Seek Help For Test Anxiety
Many people experience anxiety, particularly when it comes to taking tests. However, if you feel your fear of tests is getting in your way of functioning at school or work, consider reaching out for professional help.
A mental health professional can explore the underlying causes of your anxiety and can work with you in developing a plan to manage it.
These resources may help you:
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Try Breathing Or Mindfulness Exercises
Many people turn to calming practices to handle their nerves including nervousness about tests.
Some test-takers find that breathing exercises and mindfulness meditations are helpful when handling test anxiety, Jamie explains.
One simple exercise you can try is breathing in through your nose for the count of four, holding the breath for a count of seven, and exhaling slowly for a count of eight. This can be repeated a few times.
Deep breathing is a simple way to signal to your brain that you are safe and theres no emergency, which dampens symptoms of stress.
Among her top tips for GMAT Online test-takers, Bara Sapir, of City Test Prep, says candidates should embody an optimal mindset. Incorporate holistic and mindful techniques to increase focus, improve confidence, promote perseverance, and eliminate anxiety, she says.
Therapy And Medications Can Also Help
If you need extra support, make an appointment with your school counselor or primary care physician.
Depending on the severity of your symptoms, your physician may also recommend cognitive-behavioral therapy , anti-anxiety medications, or a combination of both. CBT focuses on helping people change both the behaviors and underlying thoughts that contribute to unwanted behaviors or feelings.
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Prepare To Write The Exam
- Eliminate extraneous sources of anxiety such as how to get to the exam room by figuring that out in advance.
- Think about what commonly distracts you during exams and develop strategies in advance for dealing with these distractions.
- Get as much rest as possible the night before the exam.
- Wear a watch to monitor your time.
- Wear layered clothing so you can control your temperature during the exam.
- Only go to the exam room a few minutes early to avoid encountering anxious people.
How Does Test Anxiety Impact A Student
Anxiety is our bodys natural response to things we view as threats. Students with test anxiety have an extreme fear of performing poorly on tests, causing them to view exams as threatening. This fear impacts them physically, mentally, and emotionally. As symptoms increase in one of those areas, they tend to get worse in the other two. One thought of, I know Im going to fail, can turn into feeling panicked, nauseous, faint, and short of breath making test-taking unbearable. If students dont learn ways to successfully manage test anxiety early on, it can damper their performance during tests throughout their teen and adult lives.
If you are a parent or teacher, here are some ways to help students get a hold on test anxiety:
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Managing Test Anxiety Part One: How To Prepare Before The Test
By Sam Katerji, MA, RP
Some students experience such high anxiety in testing situations that they are unable to prepare for tests or to perform well even when they are prepared. We refer to this experience as test anxiety, and it can occur before, during, or after a test or other evaluative situation.
Test anxiety is experienced in a variety of ways. Do you recognize any of these experiences?
- Thoughts such as, I can’t do this or I dont know anything
- Going blank or writers block
- Trouble understanding or organizing thoughts
- Being easily distracted
- Remembering the answers only after the test ends
- Panic or an urgent need to escape
Get A Good Nights Sleep
If youre like me, you may be struggling to figure out if youre able to get any sleep when you have big testing coming up at school or university. If so, weve got some good news for you. Studies have shown that the benefits of a full nights sleep can help you feel more calm before taking a big test. They also say that it can help improve how well you do on the test.
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Take Care Of Your Basic Needs
Sometimes studying can become so absorbing that we put aside our most essential needs, such as eating or sleeping. Do not forget that your brain needs fuel to function, so it is important that on the day of the exam you try not to go on an empty stomach and stay hydrated. Also, it is preferable that you do not resort to exciting drinks with caffeine or theine, as they will increase your nervousness.
Before your exam, you can do some exercise, as this will help you feel relaxed. And of course, it is essential that you rest the necessary hours. Getting to an exam without a good night’s sleep will degrade your performance.
Here Are Some Successful Strategies For Test Anxiety
We all experience some level of anxiety before a test. A little nervousness can actually help motivate us to perform our best. Too much anxiety can become a problem if it interferes with your performance on tests. Some strategies for dealing with test anxiety:
Before the test, take good care of yourself:
- Be prepared. Study the material in advance do not leave cramming for the day before your test. Do not do a last minute review.
- Get plenty of sleep, it is hard to function at your best when overtired
- Avoid any use of drugs and alcohol, they can interfere with your mental ability.
- Exercise may increase your alertness and sharpen your mind.
- Have a moderate breakfast, fresh fruits and vegetables help reduce stress avoid caffeine, sugar and junk foods.
- Allow yourself plenty of time arrive at the test location early.
- Choose a seat where you will not be easily distracted.
- Use abdominal breathing to help reduce anxiety. Place one hand on your abdomen, right beneath your rib cage. Inhale through your nose and feel your abdomen fill like a balloon…count to three on your inhalation and then slowly exhale counting to four, feeling your abdomen contracting with the exhalation.
- Do a reality check, how important is this exam in the grand scheme of things? Put it in perspective.
- Use positive affirmations, say a phrase to help keep things in perspective, “I’ve done this before, I can do it again.” or “I have all the knowledge I need to get this done.”
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How To Cope With Test Anxiety
This article was co-authored by Ted Dorsey, MA and by wikiHow staff writer, Christopher M. Osborne, PhD. Ted Dorsey is a Test Prep Tutor, author, and founder of Tutor Ted, an SAT and ACT tutoring service based in Southern California. Ted earned a perfect score on the SAT and PSAT in high school. Since then, he has earned perfect scores on the ACT , SAT Subject Test in Literature , and SAT Subject Test in Math Level 2 . He has a BA in English from Princeton University and a MA in Education from the University of California, Los Angeles.There are 12 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page. This article has been viewed 25,354 times.
Its natural to feel some anxiety before a big exam, and it can actually help provide motivation and focus. However, if youre feeling excessive test anxiety, you may find it difficult to prepare properly and do your best on test day. Following a consistent, focused, and healthy test prep schedule can really cut back on your anxiety before the exam. You can also use simple strategies to help you cope with anxiety on test day.
What Are The Causes Of Test Anxiety
It can be difficult to determine the exact cause of test anxiety, as, in many cases, it is due to a combination of factors. These factors can be classified into three broad categories: perfectionist tendencies, stress due to your testing history, and underlying anxiety. Perfectionist tendencies are often closely related to fearing failure and to connecting your self-worth and identity to your performance on an exam. Your fears may be realistic, such as fearing that you are not fully prepared for a test, or they may be unfounded, such as thinking that your family, peers, and teachers will think youre not smart if you dont do well on an exam. No matter whether your fears are realistic or not, its important to be able to identify these feelings as possible causes of your test anxiety so that you can directly address them.
Not all cases of test anxiety can be traced to perfectionist tendencies. Some people, for example, may experience stress due to their testing history. If past testing experiences have provoked anxiety or led to poor results, you may feel particularly anxious about future testing experiences. As is the case with perfectionist tendencies, being able to identify a stressful testing history is one of the first steps to devising an effective test anxiety management plan.
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Mental Causes Of Test Anxiety
On top of biological causes of test anxiety, there are also mental causes. One factor is high expectations. For example, if a student believes going in that they will do badly on a test, then they will more than likely start to have anxiety before and during the test.
Another mental cause of test anxiety is previously having test anxiety. After youve experienced test anxiety, you may start to become fearful about it happening again the next time you take an important test.
Focus During The Test
During the test, do everything you can to maintain focus. If you find yourself becoming anxious, stop and regroup. Sharpen your pencil, ask a question, or focus on taking deep breaths.
Remember to take your time but check your watch to pace yourself. Before starting the test, do a quick review and read directions twice. Start with the easiest questions first.
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How Do I Manage Test Anxiety
There are a variety of physical, cognitive, behavioral, and emotional strategies grounded in science that you can draw on in order to abate some of the symptoms of test anxiety. In terms of physical strategies, one of the most effective ways to combat test anxiety is regular exercise. Recent research has shown that exercise can help reduce anxiety for multiple reasons. One explanation is that engaging in exercise helps divert your attention away from whatever you may be anxious about. Exercise also works to combat anxiety by decreasing muscle tension, increasing the availability of anti-anxiety neurochemicals such as serotonin, and activating frontal regions of the brain that control the amygdala, the system that reacts to real or imagined threats to our survival.
Moreover, regular exercise can help you develop a consistent sleep schedule, which is another physical strategy you can use to manage test anxiety. Additional physical strategies we would recommend include tips you may already be familiar with, such as reducing caffeine intake and eating nutritious foods. We would also recommend taking short breaks while studying in order to give your mind a chance to rest and focus.
Command Education does not provide medical advice, but we recognize how difficult academic challenges can be. Anxiety can be a serious medical condition, and we encourage you to speak to your doctor to learn more about it.
Tips For Staying Offline While Studying
Technology has made staying offline from distractions much easier than it used to be. When we have the internet at our fingertips, it can be difficult for the average person to stay focused on the task at hand. Its important, however, to establish a certain level of discipline when it comes to staying offline so we can dedicate our time and energy to our studies.
The first tip is to use a computer or a laptop. This is a much better option than studying on your phone. This allows you to focus on the information you are learning because a laptop screen can be a lot bigger. Secondly, you may want to try using some headphones.
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Helping Students With Testing Anxiety
It can be difficult for friends, educators, and even parents to understand the issues facing an anxious test-taker. However it is important for the people surrounding the student to understand the gravity of the students situation as the student could be living a nightmare.
Fortunately there are many concrete steps parents and educators can take to mitigate anxiety:
When followed correctly, these steps can be very successful a meta-analysis of test anxiety interventions reported that behavioral changes in students results in significantly decreased test anxiety, with as many as 75% of previously anxious students later reporting that their anxiety had dissipated.