It’s test day. You accidentally left your pencils and pens at home, you spilled coffee on yourself rushing to the exam room after missing your alarm, then you sit down and get hit by the worst case of the butterflies ever. Your stomach hurts and you can’t concentrate on the questions in front of you. Can anything else go wrong?
Most students feel nervous before exams — especially the biggies, like standardized admissions tests, midterms and final exams. A little stress during an exam is good — you need some adrenaline to get you motivated to work through a test. But too much anxiety, as the all-too-familiar scene above illustrates, is not a good thing.
Besides making your test-taking experience miserable, too much anxiety can hurt your test performance. Below are some ways to help overcome test anxiety.
MAKE SURE YOU’RE PREPARED
Whatever you do before an exam, do not cram the night or morning of the test. Doing so not only increases your pre-exam anxiety, but it isn’t usually effective in helping you study. Instead, space out your studying over at least a few weeks’ time. Study no more than two to three hours in one sitting before taking a break.
Besides studying, being prepared for your exam means having all the test materials you need ready to go on the day of your exam. Pack your pencil case, zip-top bag, or small pouch with whatever supplies you need for the test. This might include pencils, pens, a calculator and your school ID. Lastly, get to your test on time or early to avoid extra stress.
TREAT YOUR BODY WELL
Getting enough sleep and eating well in the days leading up to an exam, and on the morning of an exam, can go a long way in keeping anxiety at bay. A lack of sleep and nourishment can mess with your hormones and leave you frazzled before your exam. Always eat breakfast on the morning of an exam, and if you are allowed to bring water and a snack for a longer test, do so (because we all know how annoying rumbling stomachs are).
Exercise can productively help you alleviate some of the stress you may naturally experience before the test. Try going for a 15 to 30 minute walk the morning of your exam to help clear your head.
A little confidence can go a long way in helping you relax before a big test. When you walk into the exam room, visualize yourself getting through the exam with ease. Take deep breaths and think about all the preparation you’ve done that will help you succeed.
TAKE THE TEST STEP-BY-STEP
Once you’re working on the test, focus on getting through one section at a time. If you find yourself getting stuck or anxious about one section, move onto the next part then return to the unanswered questions at the end. Continuing to progress through the exam will help keep you relaxed.
Never panic if you can’t figure out the answer to a question, especially the first time you see it. Remember, you can always return to a question if you don’t know the answer right away. Other questions on the test may jog your memory or you may remember a fact as you cruise through the rest of the exam. Essentially, when it comes to test-taking, just remember to keep calm and carry on!
Omega Learning® Center offers Tutoring K-12 with certified teachers for every subject in school. Stop by an Omega Learning® Center near you. http://omegalearning.com/find-tutors/