by Kacie Schiaffino
Taking tests is stressful, and dealing with test anxiety can be a major struggle. Here is a list of strategies to help you cope with test anxiety.
Be well prepared
It may sound clichéd, but the best way to do well on a test is to be well prepared. Do not wait until the day before the test to start studying. Try to look at the material and practice it every day. Know the material well enough that you would be comfortable teaching it to someone else. If you are well prepared, there is less of a chance that your mind will go blank on the exam.
Take your time
When you are put in a high pressure situation like an exam, it's easy to feel rushed. You may try to hurry through the exam, only to find out you made some easy mistakes. To combat this, take 5 to 10 deep breaths before you open the exam booklet. Then, skim through all the parts of the exam, writing down any quick notes to remind yourself of things later. Then go back through the exam, carefully reading through each question twice and underlining any major points. If you get stuck on a question, just move on to the next one. Put a star or a symbol in the margin to remind yourself to come back to that question later. If you start to feel overwhelmed, look up at the ceiling and take a few more deep breaths. You may find it helpful to work backwards through the test, as the more difficult problems are usually the last ones.
Practice in a similar setting
Although you cannot fully prepare yourself for the actual test, there are a number of things you can do to help replicate the same setting. Using a practice test or review, set a timer and try to complete it without using any of your notes. This is a great way to really see what you know, and what you still need to work on. Timing yourself and not relying on any notes help replicate the high pressure setting of an actual test. The more you practice the easier it will become, and the better you will be able to perform on the actual test. If you do not have a review or practice test, then make your own. This will force you to think like an instructor and help you to see patterns between different topics. You will also learn to evaluate the material by thinking about what the most important topics are, and which ones you can just graze over.
Remember: It's only a test
It does affect your grade, but it's important to remember that one test will not make or break you. A test is just the way that you can show your professors how much you have learned. It is a form of communication from you to them. Always write down as much as you know, and give explanations for your answers. This also forces you to really think about your answer and whether it is sound. And remember to keep your audience in mind. The best answer is one that an instructor has previously given in class during lecture. So be thoughtful with your answers. If you feel you did poorly, then take it as a learning experience. Find ways you could improve how you study, and then implement them.
Test anxiety doesn't have to leave you shaking and your mind blank. By being mindful of how you study and take tests, you can catch on to what works or doesn't work for you. This translates into better grades and a better peace of mind.