Got Test Anxiety?

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How to Keep Calm During Tests

Note: Almost everyone experiences some anxiety. 
Some anxiety is a good thing. It keeps you alert.


STUDY. Put together a study guide from: your notes, your teacher, the text book, practice tests on the internet. Practice, practice, PRACTICE the VOCABULARY - EACH  DAY - a few words at a time.

PRACTICE RELAXING. Think happy thoughts! Think about your favorite pet, a happy memory,  look at an uplifting picture (print one out, or use it as a screen saver), find a soothing scent, carry a worry stone to rub, practice progressive relaxation, deep breathing.

Be aware of what you say to yourself. Write down your negative thoughts and then write a positive thought to dispute each one. Repeat your positive statements to reprogram your mind for success. ENCOURAGE YOURSELF AS YOU WOULD A FRIEND.

Get enough sleep. Eat protein, fruits and veggies. (Consider skipping the caffeine.) Give yourself time and take your time getting there and settling in.

Do something relaxing the hour before the test. Talk about something ELSE with your friends.

If possible, look over the test and plan your approach. Do you have to go in order or can you go forward and back?  Identify sections that are worth the most points and which question you'll start with so you can pace yourself.

ADJUST YOUR TUDE! Give yourself a pep talk. Visualize yourself doing well. Approach the test vigorously.


ASK THE TEACHER TO EXPLAIN any directions that you don't understand, instead of letting anxiety build up because you are not sure about what you are expected to do.

Use everything you know to do well. Be patient with yourself when you get stuck.

THINK OF YOUR ANSWER, then look at the choices. Stuck? Eliminate wrong answers and make an educated guess (if there's no penalty for guessing).

SKIP IT AND GO ON. If you go blank, go on to another question. Mark it and return to it at the end if there is time. On an essay, grab a piece of scratch paper and start jotting down anything you can remember to get your mind working.

PAY ATTENTION TO THE TEST, not yourself, not others. Don't waste time worrying, doubting yourself, blaming yourself, wondering how other people are doing. Keep bringing your thoughts back to the items on the test. Pay attention to what you can do now.

RELAX. If you notice that you are not thinking well, PAUSE. Take several slow deep breaths. Concentrate on your breathing.

If time is running out, go to the questions you know well and/or have the most weight.

Reading Comprehension - Read steadily through the entire passage looking for the main idea. It's OK if there's something you don't understand at first - keep moving forward. Take time decoding the question. Reread after you know what you are looking for.


Reward yourself for doing your best.

Review test results. Can you identify area of difficulty. How did you do on the questions you guessed on?

Become familiar with a variety of test anxiety STRATEGIES:
Health, Exercise, Diet & Rest
Self-Image, Motivation & Attitudes
Expectations about exam content & organization
Preparation and studying
Relaxation Techniques
Releasing Stress and Tension

University of Florida Counseling Center
Univ. of Texas Learning Center
U.S. Dept. of Ed.

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