Tips for Coping With Test-Taking Anxiety

test-taking-anxietyStudents take many tests and exams throughout their school careers, not to mention all the essays, presentations, and group projects that follow. So when students have a lot riding on their performance, is it any wonder that they experience stress?

Today, “more than a quarter (27%) say they experience “extreme stress” during the school year, vs. 13% in the summer and 34% expect stress to increase in the coming year,” writes USA Today. And that’s just the stress that they’re experiencing during the school year. When it comes time to prepare for the SAT or ACT, the pressure can rise. However, when a student experiences test-taking anxiety, symptoms can set in and hurt a student’s performance. So how do you cope?

How to combat test-taking anxiety

One of the best ways to combat stress is to be prepared. Doing so will ensure that there are no surprises. Try to add flash cards or practice tests to your preferred methods of studying, as both have been proven to help students feel more prepared. Don’t assume that the only tests you’ll ever take are planned. Often, instructors will initiate pop quizzes, but if you prepare early, you can alleviate the stress associated with them.

Cramming overnight has been proven to be an ineffective method of studying. If you can, try and distribute the study material over an appropriate period of time so that you can better focus and retain the information you’re responsible for. When it comes time to take your test, arrive early so that you won’t experience stress associated with being late.

Don’t forget to stay focused and calm during your test. While it’s easy to let your mind or eye wander and notice that others may finish their tests before you do, just concentrate on your own test at a speed that works best for you. And if you’re unsure of an answer to a question, don’t spend too much time rereading it. Simply skip it and focus on the questions you know, then come back to it later.

As you know, preparing for tests can be stressful. Once you feel fully prepared, treat yourself and relax with your favorite activity. This is also a good strategy when you get to college. Say you spent weeks preparing for your midterm and scored an A. Treating yourself to something small can serve as motivation during future study sessions.