Conquering Test Anxiety

When you are anxious about a test, the pressure is likely to cause you to not do as well as you can.  Assessing your attitude and preparing well for the test can put to rest test anxiety.

Here are some things to think about...

  • One test will not "make or break" your Gustavus career.  Do not feel your whole future is at stake.  One test will not keep you out of graduate school, or from getting a job.
  • Put the test in perspective.  Understand what influence it has on your overall class grade.  Realize that it is a measure of how well you know the material on that day, not your worth as a person.
  • Avoid the trap of having low expectations just because you did poorly on the last test.  Put that test behind you, and concentrate on doing your best on this one.
  • Your family and friends will still be there for you, even if you do poorly.  Do not add external pressures that do not exist.
  • Compare yourself only to you.  Do not worry about how the rest of the class did.

Try these techniques to improve your performance...

  • Get a good night's sleep the night before.  The benefit of studying after midnight is diminished by the detriment of taking the test without enough sleep.
  • Prepare well for the test.  Keep up with your daily work, and add test review starting approximately a week before the test.
  • Avoid talking about the test with your classmates immediately before the test.  It tends to increase anxiety, and can lead to group paranoia.
  • Ask for clarification from the professor if there is anything unclear on the test.  Feeling you are unsure about directions only adds to your anxiety.
  • Use positive self talk to calm fears as you are taking the test.  Congratulate yourself for answers you are sure of, allow yourself to skip and go back to questions you are unsure of.
  • Be aware of physical tension.  If you are tense, take a minute to breathe and relax your muscles.

Adapted from About Test Anxiety by Channing L. Bete Co, Inc.