Tips to Overcoming Test Anxiety

Think back for a moment.  Back to a time when you had a very important test to take, one that you placed great importance on.  Prior to this test did you feel tense, have trouble focusing, feel sweaty, or possibly get headaches?  If one, or more, of these symptoms sound familiar, it was quite possible you were experiencing a high level of test anxiety.

It is very common for individuals to feel a higher level of anxiety prior to taking an important test, such as a licensing test.  Knowing the implications of the test, some people can even begin to feel these increased levels of anxiety while preparing and studying.  Bottom line is test anxiety can happen to anyone.

According to Ryan Ferguson, an expert in test preparation,

“The way to fight test anxiety is to be prepared, be confident and do not over-study.”

Students can often fall into traps prior to a test that can lead to high anxiety.  One of these traps is pre-test hysteria.  Pre-test hysteria normally occurs during the minutes leading up to the test.  This is the time when nervousness can take over causing students to begin going over all the notes right before the test.  This will only increase anxiety and possibly cause students to make mistakes.  Instead, students should take this time to relax and not overthink questions.  Deep breathing exercises are a useful aid, as well as, simply grabbing a piece of paper and writing down whatever happens to come to mind.  Both of these help to calm the body and keep the mind sharp.

Another common trap is cramming, although this one can be a little more difficult to avoid in certain situations.  Cramming for a test can cause students not to recall information for longer periods of time, since it is contained within short-term memory.  However, life happens, and there are times when a student may have no choice, but to cram for a test.

Should a student be left with no other choice but to cram for a test, there are a few steps he/she can follow to get the most out of the cramming.  To begin, the student should start by determining which of the topic areas are most difficult, those where he/she feels deficient.  Next, he/she should organize the preparation materials to the best of their ability.  Finding unique ways to recite the information will go a long way in helping to recall the information during the test.  Many experts suggest making up rhymes or comparative tricks to help remember the information during the test, plus this kind of memory enhancement is a form of studying.  Students can also try different methods of reading through the material, such as out loud or with a ‘study buddy’.  The different ways a student reads through the material the better the information will be retained.  The final, and most important step to cram studying, is to relax and try not to stress yourself out.  Try some of the tips mentioned previously in this article to aid with relaxation.

It is fairly obvious the major key to testing anxiety is relaxation.  This can be very easy to say, but not so easy in practice.  If you know you struggle with high anxiety during tests, or, if you find yourself suddenly anxious about an upcoming test, try some of these tips.  They may sound rather mundane, but many time the simple things can have a great impact on us.  Anxiety can play a huge role in the outcome of testing results and finding a way to curb the anxious feelings may be the difference between a pass and fail result.  Lastly, trust your instincts.  After all the preparation and studying, don’t second guess yourself, trust your instincts and trust your preparation.

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Source:  The Collegian

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