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Tips for Managing Test Anxiety

You’ve attended class, completed the homework. Now it’s time to take the exam. For some of us, the signs of test anxiety start to kick in long before we actually have to take the exam. The mental blocks, fear of not doing well, and difficulty concentrating happen with just the thought that nasty four-letter word.

Don’t worry, you’re not alone; research shows that an average 35% of all students have dealt with test anxiety at one time or another. This type of stress is quite common among college students, and most will feel a certain amount of anxiety when preparing for a test, which can hinder how you study and what you retain.

Knowing how the anxiety manifests can be half the battle. The majority of the stress comes from a lack of preparedness. There are easy steps you can take to help build your confidence and learn how to manage your test anxiety. Here are a few useful tips to help you deal with and, dare I say it, actually overcome your test anxiety.

I know, I know, many of you are thinking “duh!” But I’m not talking about glancing at the material a week early or pulling an all nighter in front of the TV the evening before the exam. Set aside some time to study the material on a regular basis in the weeks leading up to the test. You don’t have to be a master at time management, but the more time you allow to learn the material, the more comfortable you’ll feel during the actual exam.

Break studying into smaller chunks
Have a study sheet (or flash cards, they work very well) on hand to refer to while making dinner, or giving Fido a bath. Have a friend quiz you while shopping or on the way to the big game (when you should be home studying).

Study with someone
My cat was one of my Spanish study buddies. Don’t believe me…just say to her “no es tiempo de comer todavia,” and she’ll move closer to her food dish… and wait to be fed. She can speak Spanish! Well, not so much speak it as understand it…and unfortunately the above phrase is all either of us remembers, but you get the point. Having someone (or a cat) available to help you when needed will keep you relaxed and help you avoid distraction.

Get a good night’s rest
Sleep helps to rejuvenate your body and mind!

If for whatever reason, you’ve completely ignored steps 1-4 above, here are a few last minute tips when you’re actually sitting down to take the exam:

  • First and foremost, don’t panic. Rely on what you’ve learned in class and what you already know. A small amount of nervousness can be productive. You’ll be surprised at what you can remember.
  • Maintain a positive attitude. Push all negative thoughts out. Take several deep breaths and dive in.
  • Stay focused. Concentrate on the test, not other students during your exams.

With a little practice, discipline, and dedication, you’ll find that taking tests becomes easier over time. After graduation you’ll even wonder, “Why was I so concerned?” Keep a positive attitude and you’ll do just fine.

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