No one loves taking tests, but they are part of your regular life as a student. If you find yourself plagued by testing anxiety, the following four strategies can help you to work through it.
Make a plan. During a test, panic can set in when don’t immediately know the answer to a question. Remember, part of the point of a test is not to force you to spit out instant answers, but to evaluate your ability to work through possible solutions. So rather than only memorizing potential answers, make a game plan for deducing answers.
Part of testing success is learning how to take tests.
Develop positive self-talk. Here’s an interesting tidbit: From an emotional perspective, our brains don’t actually recognize words like “not” and “don’t”. They only recognize the words around those words. So instead of saying “I’m not nervous” or “don’t panic” (which only make you nervous and encourage panic), try “I’m fine” and “relax”.
Identify your coping statement. Different affirmations work for different people. But test out positive quotes, or simply remind yourself that you’re prepared, and see what works. For many, it helps to focus on the hours of preparation under their belts. Tell yourself, “I prepared for this for x hours; I’m ready”.
Use breathing techniques. When we’re nervous, we tend to take shorter, more shallow breaths. This only induces the body’s “fight or flight” response, as it reads that type of breathing as an emergency situation. Focus on taking long, deep breaths, filling your diaphragm all the way to the bottom, and then exhaling slowly.
And of course, if you really suffer from an excessive amount of testing anxiety, don’t repress your feelings or try to force yourself through it. Talk to your parents or a trusted mentor about the possible need for further counseling. A good therapist can help you identify additional coping strategies tailored to your needs.