If you’re scouring the internet looking for strategies to help you cope with anxiety about an upcoming exam, you’re not alone. Test anxiety is normal. In fact, it’s actually quite common, with as many as 20% of students reporting severe anxiety during an exam.
Everyone gets a bit anxious in situations where they are about to be evaluated — first dates, job interviews, and exams are all stressful situations. It’s okay to feel anxious, but you need to have complete control over your performance. That’s hard to do when you’re having an anxiety attack. Check out these test anxiety tips to prepare for your next exam.
Use a Deep Breathing Technique to Calm Yourself
Deep breathing is one of the best strategies to manage test anxiety because it relaxes your body and mind. This makes it easier to overcome exam anxiety. To practice deep breathing techniques before your exam:
- Find a quiet place to sit.
- Close your eyes. Inhale, slowly and deeply, through your nose.
- Exhale slowly through your mouth.
- Repeat the process, focusing on each breath, until you feel relaxed.
Think Your Way Calm
Your mind is a powerful thing. Students often become anxious before exams because the nagging little voice in the back of their mind keeps telling them they will fail. Positive thinking helps you shut down any negative thoughts that are fueling your exam anxiety. So before your test, do two simple things — give yourself a reality check and a pep talk.
It’s common for people with anxiety to view situations as more detrimental than they are in reality. Before you test, take a few minutes to consider the worse case scenario. What will happen if you fail your exam? It may lower your grade, but it’s not likely that failing one exam will get you thrown out of school. Don’t put more pressure on yourself than necessary.
Replace negative thoughts with positive ones. Before your test, look yourself in the mirror and give yourself a short pep talk. Replace thoughts like “I can’t do this” and “I’m going to fail” with positive affirmations such as “I can do this” and “I’m going to ace this exam.”
Get a Good Night’s Sleep
You may be wondering why it’s important to get a good night’s sleep the night before your exam. After all, you should be studying so that you’re prepared for your test, right?
It may surprise you to discover that one of the best test anxiety strategies you can follow is putting down the books and hitting the bed.
Late night cram sessions will only crank up your anxiety. Avoid them like the plague. Lack of sleep can cause a bout of brain fog in the morning, which makes it difficult to concentrate on your exam.
Prepare for your exam by studying a bit each night, throughout the week’s leading up to the exam. The night before your exam, put all your study materials away and go to bed at a decent hour. You’ll wake up feeling refreshed with a clear mind.
Eat a Healthy Breakfast
Fuel your body, fuel your mind.
Most test anxiety strategies focus on keeping you calm and relaxed, but eating a healthy breakfast does the opposite. It gives you energy and helps you maintain the elevated, positive attitude you need to pass your exam.
On exam day, skip the carbs at breakfast. You don’t want to be in a near food-coma state for half your exam. Eat a hearty breakfast filled with protein to keep you energized and focused.
You can’t allow your test anxiety to control you. Fortunately, incorporating several strategies to deal with it into your normal study routine makes it easier to overcome exam anxiety.