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What is Test Anxiety and How Can you Beat It?

Struggling with anxiety? It doesn’t have to be this way.

Student Contributor, Piper Megellas

May 04, 2022

If you’ve found yourself dealing with test anxiety recently, you’ve come to the right place.
What is Test Anxiety and How Can you Beat It?
You've been studying for your exam all week, but the moment you walk into the classroom you’re hit with a wave of nausea and your chest suddenly starts tightening. You know what you’re doing, so why are you still so nervous? What if you don’t have it all under control after all? If this sounds like just another Friday to you, you might have test anxiety, and you’re not alone. It is estimated that up to forty percent of students suffer from test anxiety to some degree. Although common, test anxiety can be serious and may negatively impact your results in school. But fear not - it’s not hopeless. There are several ways that you can combat your anxiety to achieve your best results. Here are just a few test anxiety tips to get you started on the right foot.

1. Prepare Well in Advance

While test anxiety might be unrelated to studying or preparation for some, others will find that going out of their way to study extra will give them a sense of stability when it comes time to take that dreaded exam. Plus, spreading out your test prep over several weeks could help you avoid the anxiety that might accompany a last-minute cram sesh.

2. Get Plenty of Sleep

Fatigue won’t just make you irritable - it can also increase your levels of anxiety. Do your best to get a solid eight hours of sleep each night leading up to the test so that you can approach it with a clear mind.
It might be tempting to pull an all-nighter in order to pack more information into your brain, but these have hidden consequences that affect not only your performance on the test, but your health in general.

3. Eat a Good Breakfast the Morning of Your Test

They say that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, and regardless of whether you believe this is true, eating enough to get you through your test is certainly a good idea. Think of food as fuel for your brain. Without enough, you’ll find yourself becoming sluggish and tired as the test progresses.

4. Try Calming Breathing Techniques

If you find that your anxiety makes you feel short of breath or makes it difficult to breathe normally, you could benefit from trying breathing exercises like pretending that you’re breathing through a straw or the 4-7-8 method. These will help slow your heart rate and ease your anxiety.

5. Stop Focusing on Other Students

There are times when looking at other students during class is great, but during a test is not one of them. If you notice you are working at a different pace than other students, you might start to feel anxiety about the pace at which you are taking the test. If you catch yourself doing this, keep your eyes on your own test and remember that you should work at the pace you find most functional. Who cares what anyone else is doing, after all?

6. Talk to Someone About your Anxiety

There are plenty of people who you could talk to - it doesn’t have to be a counselor. You could also talk to friends, family, or teachers. Sometimes vocalizing the way you’re feeling will help you be able to work through it. If it is disrupting your day to day life, it might be worth considering speaking to a professional. Test anxiety is common, but when it starts to affect other aspects of your life, you may be showing symptoms of an actual anxiety disorder. Although speaking to a therapist or doctor may seem intimidating, these professionals will have the tools you may need to start feeling better.

7. Remind Yourself - You’ve Got This!

You’ve prepared well: you’ve made sure to get plenty of sleep and eat before your exam. The last part is totally mental. Take a moment before you begin to remind yourself that you are prepared. You do know what you’re doing and you have it within you to ace this test. Test anxiety can be frustrating, but it isn’t hopeless. Next time you start to feel nervous, these tips might be able to help you get it back under control. So go out there, and kill that test! (In a positive way, of course.)

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