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Reducing Test Taking Anxiety

Test anxiety is when a test taker excessively worries about doing well on a test. This can become a major hindrance on test performance and cause extreme nervousness and memory lapses among other symptoms. The following are tips on reducing test taking anxiety.

  • Don’t believe the rumors you have heard about the test. Being well prepared for the test is the best way to reduce test taking anxiety.
  • You must learn for yourself what the subject matter of the test covers; then you can decide how well you know the topics covered and thus how much studying and review you will need to do before taking the test.
  • Space out your studying over a few days or weeks and continually review the subject material. Don't try to learn everything the night before.
  • Try to maintain a positive attitude while preparing for the test and during the test.
  • Exercising for a few days before the test will help reduce stress.
  • Get a good night's sleep before the test.
  • Arrive at the testing center early so you won't have to worry about being late.
  • Stay relaxed, if you begin to get nervous, settle back in your chair and take a few deep breaths to slowly to relax yourself and then get back to work. Read the test directions slowly and carefully.
  • If you don't understand the directions on the test, ask the proctor for clarification.
  • As you work on the exam, focus only on the exam; don't let your mind wander on other things.
  • Research shows that everybody talks to themselves during a test. However, test anxious individuals say more negative things to themselves (I’m going to fail this test, if I fail the test, I’ll never be a success). Non-test anxious individuals say more positive things to themselves during the test (I’m doing fine). Try to change what you say to yourself to more positive. Stop any negative thoughts and change them to more helpful ones as soon as they start.
  • Don't worry about how fast other people finish their test; just concentrate on your own test.
  • Read and respond to items one at a time rather than thinking about the whole test.
  • If you don't know a question skip it for the time being (come back to it later if the test allows you to do so), and remember that you don't have to always get every question right in order to do well on the test.
  • After you have finished, do something fun to reward yourself for a job well done.
  • Always maintain a realistic attitude and a sense of humor about yourself and the situation you find yourself in.