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Dealing with Test Anxiety
What is test anxiety?
If you sometimes flub questions when you know the answer, if you freeze during tests, if you have difficulty sleeping as exams approach - then you might be suffering from test anxiety.
Test anxiety is characterized by feelings of nervousness, fear, or dread, which can lead to poor test performance.
What can I do about it?
There are several things you can do to reduce or prevent test anxiety.
Before the test:
- Learn and practice some simple relaxation techniques such as deep breathing or breath control.
- Don't procrastinate; prepare several days in advance. Ask yourself what questions may be asked and try to answer them.
- Work on improving your "test-taking attitude" (avoid thinking of yourself in irrational, all-or-nothing terms; set up a post-test treat/reward for yourself).
- Get a good night's sleep.
On the day of the test:
- Eat a moderate breakfast and avoid coffee, tea, or soda if caffeine makes you jittery.
- Do something relaxing the hour before the test (no last minute cramming!).
- Plan to arrive at the test location early (this will allow you time to relax).
- Avoid stressful situations or confrontations.
During the test:
- First review the entire test; then read the directions twice. Work on the easiest questions of the test first.
- For essay questions, construct a short outline for yourself and then begin your answer with a summary sentence.
- For short-answer questions, answer only what is asked; be short and to the point.
- For multiple choice questions, read all the options first, then eliminate the most obvious wrong answers. Rely on your first impressions!
- Do not rush through the test. Wear a watch and regularly check the time to pace yourself.
- If it appears you will be unable to finish the entire test, concentrate on those portions that you can answer well.
Don't be impressed by early finishers (they may not know the answers).
GVSU Counseling & Career Development Center
Page last modified September 14, 2010