How to Help Control Your Testing Anxiety
Exams are just around the corner, and that means studying for the test – worth twenty percent of your final grade. For some people, this also means excessively worrying whether what you are doing to prepare is enough. This is not unnatural, and if you have experienced this before, it is perfectly understandable. However, I would not go so far as to say it is completely normal whereas experiencing a little bit nervousness is more common. While this article will not be able to give you a way to completely get rid of it, it could provide ways to lessen the intensity.
Test anxiety is just like it sounds: anxiety triggered by the pressure of testing or presenting. By brief definition, “test anxiety is when someone feels anxious, nervous, or worried about an upcoming assessment or project.”(Renaissance) Now, some cases of test anxiety are worse than others to the point of getting anxious MONTHS before the test takes places. There are multiple factors that can contribute to test anxiety, and they impact everyone differently. However, all are valid, and hopefully these tips can help with your upcoming exams or tests!
One thing I have found to help is not thinking too much about the test the night before. For example, maybe doing light review with a movie on in the background the night before the test. This way, the brain is getting some refreshers while having something to distract it from over thinking. Granted, getting a good night’s sleep is still very important as well as a good meal beforehand, but having a small distraction to help you relax before the test is good. Sometimes testing anxiety could result from just over-thinking about the test itself, which affects your overall performance on the test.
If you are one to cram for a huge test the week prior, this is simply not a good habit to maintain, and I highly advise against it. Try to start studying about a month beforehand at the latest before big tests like the ACT, SAT, and AP exams. This helps with long term memory and reducing stress levels later on. Building up the time spent studying gradually as the test get closer helps as well. For example, spending twenty to forty minutes a day for five days a week two months before the test would be a great amount to start with. Therefore, as the test grows closer, you would end up spending around an hour and a half to two hours studying. This way, you would feel less pressure to remember everything in the short term, which in turn, decreases your anxiety about the test performance because of you know that you are prepared.
It is also important to take a moment to step back and take a deep breath. If you spend all your time studying hard, then you could experience burnout, which would hurt you more than not studying at all. Spending the five to six days a week studying allows for a day to decompress and take time for yourself. Keeping a level head allows for top performance and keeps your brain from overloading. Majority of testing anxiety is all in your head. Having someone tell you that you need to stop worrying about it will not necessarily help, but, repeating in your head that you know what you are doing and you have prepared for this test could make a difference! You can do this!!
Again, these tips are to help control testing anxiety, and I am by no means a professional in psychology. They will not get rid of the test anxiety completely, but I hope these will help later on as the exams roll around!