Strategies and Pointers For The Anxious Test Taker

Test anxiety is an all too common problem for students of all ages. Even among students who have studied hard and know a subject matter inside out, the anxiety of not knowing what questions will be on a test, or concern that they may not answer all of the questions in the allotted timeframe, can lead to anxiety. If taking tests causes you stress and anxiety, incorporate the tips below into your study habits and day-of preparation to help ease your anxiety.

Prepare With Time To Spare

If you are already an anxious test taker, you only do yourself a disservice if you wait until the last minute to study for an upcoming test. To better manage your time, create a homework and study calendar. This could be a physical calendar that you carry with you, an electronic calendar on your phone or computer, or an application for a homework calendar that allows you to create a to do list, color-code your class assignments, and send you reminders about upcoming due dates and tests.

Strategies and Pointers For The Anxious Test Taker

Take A Practice Test

Find a quiet place to take a practice test a few days before the big exam. You can ask your teacher or professor if they have any practice tests available, or you can create a practice test by compiling questions from your homework assignments and quizzes. Successfully completing a practice test will increase your confidence level on the subject matter, will alert you to any areas you need to brush up on, and give you an opportunity to practice some of the other test taking techniques below.

Get A Good Night’s Sleep

Whether you are an anxious test taker or not, getting a good night’s rest improves your chances of acing your exam. Giving your body the sleep it needs not only helps to increase your focus and concentration, but also helps to balance hormones that can add to your level of stress and anxiety. Whether you sleep well, or feel short on sleep, skip the AM coffee as it can increase your nervousness.

During The Test

Once you arrive at school and are in class, there are some steps you can take to ease your anxiety, and organize your time:

Breathe—Taking 3 deep breaths in through your nose, and exhaling out through your mouth will help to ease anxiety as it builds.

Read The Directions—Ensuring that you fully understand the directions of the questions will increase your likelihood of success. You want to look for specifics, such as whether or not there is more than one right or wrong answer to questions, and how long or detailed essay questions need to be.

Start With What You Know—Many tests have the “easy” answers first, so start there, or with the topics you feel most confident about. Starting where you excel will help you begin your test on a positive note.

Visualize Success—When anxiety begins to creep in, visualize receiving your test from you teacher or professor with an outstanding grade. You can also do this prior to taking your test when anxiety beings to build.

By incorporating the strategy and tactics above into your study habits and test-taking plan, you can help build your confidence and ease anxiety.

Lonnie Patterson is a freelance writer based in Cincinnati, Ohio. Lonnie suggests that students take a look at the study resources and test materials from