Excessive anxiety about taking tests is referred to as test anxiety. Many college students experience test anxiety. It’s important to remember that some anxiety over an exam is normal and even positive. Anxiety can motivate us to study for an exam and focus during the test. However, when excessive anxiety hinders performance, it’s time to develop strategies for coping.
1. Prepare for the test well in advance. If you know you’ve done what you need to do to prepare, you will be more confident.
2. Avoid excessive caffeine. If you have one cup of coffee every morning, stick to one cup of coffee. Do not consume more caffeine than you normally do. If you suffer from test anxiety, you do not need anything that will make you more jittery than necessary.
3. Get to the exam early. Rushing to the exam can create a sense of chaos which is the last thing you need if you are working on decreasing your level of anxiety.
4. Avoid talking other students who tend to be overly anxious about the exam. If you chat with classmates, talk about topics not related to the test. Sometimes student can feed off of classmates’ nervous energy as they wait together to take an exam.
5. Look over your notes one last time when you get to the classroom. You will probably not learn anything new at this point'”which is why this may build your confidence. Take a final look at your notes and tell yourself, “I know this stuff.”
6. As the test is being passed out, put your notes away and take a few deep breaths.
7. Before you take the test, acknowledge any anxiety you have. Remind yourself that you have test anxiety because the test is important to you. And perceiving a test as important is not necessarily a bad thing!
8. Think of the exam as a way to show how hard you have worked in the class and what you have learned. Instead of feeling that you are being tested, think of the opportunity you have to benefit from all of the effort you have put in.
9. Take a look at the entire test after you receive it. This will give you an idea of how quickly you should proceed throughout the exam. Answer any questions you see as “easy” first to build confidence.
10. If the test is longer than an hour or so and it is possible, get up to stretch and get a drink of water at a point where you are feeling frustrated or stuck.
11. If other students finish the test before you do, it’s okay. It doesn’t mean that they have more knowledge than you do. Maybe they didn’t even answer all of the questions.
12. After you turn in the test, stop thinking about it. You’ve done all you can. Second guessing your answers is futile.