How to Effectively Manage Test Anxiety

Taking an exam, whether it is the ACT/SAT exam or a standard history exam, can cause any student a great amount of stress.  This is especially true if passing the exam could increase your chances of getting accepted into the college of your choice or perhaps even passing a class in high school.

This type of anxiousness is commonly referred to as test anxiety.  There are millions of people all over the world that suffer from this disease.  In this post, I’ll discuss how you can identify if you have test anxiety and some ways to effectively manage it.

How Do I Know If I Have Test Anxiety?

Test anxiety can happen in 2 places: your head and your body.

Here are some signs of test anxiety in your head:

  • Mental black-outs
  • Racing thoughts
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Negative thoughts about past performance or consequences of failing
  • Knowing the answer after the test is over, but not during

Here are some signs of test anxiety in your body:

  • Increased breathing rate
  • Tense muscles
  • Nausea
  • Dry mouth
  • Headache

5 Ways to Effectively Manage Test Anxiety

Avoid Negative Thoughts – The first thing to remember is that being nervous about an exam is completely normal, as there is usually a lot at stake (i.e. passing a class or getting into a good college).  However, you must try to remain positive.  If you are focused on the positive outcomes, then your mind will also work towards that goal.

Get Prepared – In order to remain confident and stay positive, you have to be thoroughly prepared to take the exam.  Make an organized studying schedule and stick to it.  Find helpful resources.  If you are comfortable with the material being tested on the exam, then you will reduce your degree of nervousness.

Know Test Format – Learn about the test.  How many questions will it be?  Is it an essay exam or is it a multiple choice exam?  How will it be graded?  How much time do you have to complete it?  If you are familiar with the test format, then this will alleviate any stress in this area.

Know Test Location – If your exam is taking place at a testing center or other location that you’ve never been to before, make sure that you know where the place is located.  If the directions say that the place is 30 minutes from your house, give yourself an extra 15 minutes just in case you get lost or perhaps drive by the location the day before to avoid any surprises on exam day.

Learn Breathing Exercises – Sometimes test anxiety can be minimized by just breathing deeply and slowly.  If you find yourself exhibiting some of the signs of test anxiety described earlier during the actual exam, take a minute and do a few breathing exercises to get yourself back on track.

The most important thing to keep in mind is that test anxiety is completely normal.  Don’t freak out if you are nervous on the day of an important exam.

In fact, some experts say that having some degree of nervousness can actually be a good thing because it gets our adrenaline flowing, which makes our minds sharper.  In any event, if you follow the tips outlined above, you too can effectively manage test anxiety.

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Lauren Anderson is a certified school counselor who's passionate about helping students all over the world successfully transition from high school to college! After spending 6 years as a business professional, she obtained her Master’s degree in School Counseling and now spends her spare time helping students.

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