Let’s face it; we’ve all faced test anxiety. Whether it was just a class test in school, your finals, or the SATs, it’s very common to feel stressed out because of your exams. And since you often worry because you care, or you understand how difficult a particular subject is to you, you often feel like there is nothing you can do about it.
So with your exams right around the corner (it’s probably the only reason why you’re reading this in the first place), here are a few tips to help you get over the stress of tests.
Getting Over Exam Anxiety
The tips and tricks that we will provide you will fall under two different categories, before the college exam and on the day of the exam. There is no quick hack to feel better about the exam that you are about to give; instead, it’s a process where you slowly face your fears and mentally prepare yourself for the storm that is about to come.
So let’s start with what you should do before the exam.
Before the Exam
Taking care of your mind and body before the exam is the most important thing that you can do. You should keep your brain and body healthy, so you don’t risk breaking down (physically, mentally, or emotionally) during the exam. It is all too common for people to fall into a spiral of unhealthy habits all for the sake of some extra study time.
However, the most important effect of these unhealthy habits is that they directly cause test anxiety. And test anxiety before a test can ruin your months of learning and progress. So, here are some things that you should do at least a week before the exam, or continue to do during the exam month.
Seriously, get some sleep. You pulling off those all-nighters before an exam will bring a lot more harm than good to your body, especially in the long run as you can develop sleeping disorders. Make it a habit to sleep on time; even if you sleep late during the day, sleep at the same time every day to make your body more habitual of sleep routines, and your mind achieves better and fuller sleep.
Moreover, don’t depend on getting enough sleep just before the exam, as you risk oversleeping and missing your exam. By developing healthy sleeping habits, you will be a lot more active during the exam.
Skip Junk Food
If you happen to live alone, you know just how tiring it can be to cook on your own. Looking for a recipe that you can afford and make in a short amount of time can be quite the challenge, so why bother? While junk food does have quite an appeal to it, it’s the worst thing that you can have before an exam or during the exam month.
Don’t consume too much sugar before an exam as it can cause a sugar crash. And don’t consume too much caffeine before an exam if it causes jitteriness, so no coffee or energy drinks.
Practice Relaxation Techniques
Anxiety before a test is just a collection of your worst fears haunting you, and if you indulge in them, you run the risk of forgetting what you learned. So, all you have to do is not entertain those anxious thoughts. Sounds easy enough? Well, not exactly.
Anxious thoughts have a way of pulling you in, and it can be hard to ignore them. And since you honestly don’t have the time or money to run to your therapist every day, you will have to rely on some relaxation exercises to calm yourself down.
Deep breaths, yoga, meditation, and even soothing music are all great ways to calm down. So, it is best to find what calms you down and go with it.
Stay on the Move
Exercise is a very good way of keeping your mind and body active. We don’t need to go into the details of just how beneficial exercise is to the body since you probably know it yourself. Go for strolls when you’re looking for a break, or perform some stretches to loosen up your body a little and keep your brain safe from mental fatigue.
This is the part where you say obviously. But seriously by properly preparing for your exam, you can easily avoid exam anxiety. By being prepared, you can skip all of the stress that comes the day or even a week before an exam.
But let’s be honest you’re probably long past the point where preparation would make a significant difference, so let’s move onto what you can actually do on the day of the exam.
The Exam Day
On the day of the exam, there is not a lot that you can do about exam stress; but the few things that you do can make quite a difference. You can try to arrive early, so you don’t have to worry about getting seated and organizing yourself. You can follow the instructions on the paper as well as the instructions that your teacher gives you to solve the paper better.
And finally, if you feel like the anxiety is building and has reached its boiling point, put your pen down and take a few deep breaths. Think rationally about what you are writing and try to calm yourself. Remember nothing good ever comesout of panicking.
Getting ready for an exam might, at times, feel like a monumental task, especially if you’re feeling anxious about it. And since continuous worrying isn’t an option, the best that you can do is to try and relax before and during the paper.
Anne Baron is highly experienced educator, writer and copywriter specializing in academic research. She has a Ph.D. in Educational Administration with almost 25 years of experience in teaching and academic writing. She spent a dozen years managing a large college peer-tutoring program and another dozen years in the classroom teaching college students. She has since retired from teaching and devotes her time and efforts to freelance writing for institutions, businesses and colleges like Patrick Henry College.