How to combat test anxiety
10 Ways to Overcome Test Anxiety
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Has this ever happened to you? You’ve been studying hard for your chemistry midterm, but when you walk into your exam, your mind goes blank. As you sit down to start your test, you notice your sweaty palms and a pit in your stomach.
If these classic signs of test anxiety sound familiar, your grades and test scores may not reflect your true abilities. Learn ways to manage test anxiety before and during a stressful test.
What is Test Anxiety?
While it’s completely normal to feel a bit nervous before a test, some students find test anxiety debilitating. Racing thoughts, inability to concentrate, or feelings of dread can combine with physical symptoms like a fast heartbeat, headache, or nausea. Whether it’s the ACT, an AP exam, or an important history final, test anxiety has the power to derail weeks and months of hard work.
Test Anxiety Tips
According to the ADAA, causes of test anxiety may include a fear of failure, lack of adequate prep time, or bad experiences taking tests in the past. You're not alone! Here's what you can do to stay calm in the days leading up to and during your test.1. Be prepared.
Yes, this seems obvious, but it bears repeating. If you feel confident that you’ve prepped thoroughly, you’ll feel more confident walking into the test. Need help reviewing tough concepts or question types? The test prep experts at The Princeton Review can provide that extra boost you need to feel cool and collected.2. Get a good night’s sleep.
Cramming is never the answer, and pulling an all-nighter can exacerbate your nerves. Having adequate rest (9–10 hours per night) is likely to be more beneficial than rereading a text until dawn (But if you ARE up late studying and have a question, our on-demand tutors are there for you.)
Book Guaranteed SAT Success.3. Fuel up.
Eat a nutritious breakfast before the test and pack smart snacks for ongoing energy. Look for foods that offer a steady stream of nutrients, rather than a sugar high followed by a crash.4. Get to class—or the testing site—early .
Feeling rushed will only amp up the anxiety. Pack everything you need for the exam the night before and set the alarm, so you can get out the door on time.5. Have a positive mental attitude .
Bring a picture of your happy place or come up with a morale-boosting mantra like “I can do this” or “I worked hard and deserve this. ” Peek at your picture or recite your mantra, right before the test begins.6. Read carefully.
Read the directions thoroughly and read all answers before making a choice or starting the essay. There is nothing worse than putting time into a question and realizing you are not solving for x, or the essay is off target. Slowing down can help you stay focused.7. Just start.
The blank page can maximize your anxiety. After you’ve read the directions, dive right in by making an outline for an essay answer. Or, find some questions you can ace to build up your confidence and momentum. You can always go back and change things later if needed, but a few quick answers can get the ball rolling.
Read More: 5 Signs You Need a Tutor8. Don’t pay attention to what other people are doing.
Everyone else is scribbling away? Ack! What do they know that you don’t? It doesn’t matter. Pay attention to your own test and pace, and forget about the other students in the room.9. Watch the clock .
Realizing that time is almost up and there are lots of test questions left can make it hard to do anything useful in those final minutes. Stay on pace by scoping out the whole test before getting started. Mentally allocate how much time you’ll spend on each section. If there’s time to recheck, even better.10. Focus on calm breathing and positive thoughts .
Deep breathing can slow down a beating heart or a racing mind, so practice these techniques at home. The very act of concentrating on breathing and thinking can biometrically alter those anxious feelings.
Sometimes just remembering that some test-taking anxiety is a normal part of school can help make it easier to handle. If you need a confidence boost, try a session with an online tutor. From PhDs and Ivy Leaguers to doctors and teachers, our tutors are experts in their fields, and they know how to keep your anxiety at bay.
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The Staff of The Princeton ReviewFor more than 40 years, students and families have trusted The Princeton Review to help them get into their dream schools. We help students succeed in high school and beyond by giving them resources for better grades, better test scores, and stronger college applications. Follow us on Twitter: @ThePrincetonRev.
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Test Anxiety Tips | School of Medicine
What is Test Anxiety?
Test anxiety is a type of performance anxiety. When there is pressure because of high expectations or the stakes are high, people can become so anxious that they are hindered from doing their best.
It is sometimes helpful and normal to have nervousness around testing. The energy can keep our minds alert and the arousal can help with focus. However, there is a threshold and sometimes too much anxiety can begin to impair brain functioning. When our emotional brain starts to feel fear and get activated, it can make it hard to remember what was studied and to maximize our prefrontal cortex functioning.
Symptoms of Test Anxiety
Test anxiety symptoms can range from mild to severe. It is possible to have mild symptoms of test anxiety and still perform well on exams. Others can feel so overwhelmed that they encounter panic attacks before or during exams. The Anxiety and Depression Association of America describes symptoms of test anxiety as physical, behavioral, cognitive, and emotional.
Physical symptoms can range from increased heart rate, sweating, dry mouth, to shaking, fainting, panic attacks, vomiting and nausea.
Cognitive and Behavioral Symptoms
Cognitive and behavioral symptoms can include negative self-talk and cognitive distortions that lead students to avoid studying or testing situations. Challenges with focus and concentration as well as racing thoughts or rumination can be common.
Emotional symptoms can include low self-esteem, depressive symptoms, frustration, irritability, feeling overwhelmed and a sense of hopelessness.
Causes of Test Anxiety
In the medical student population, test anxiety can be heightened due to the intense nature of the academic environment. Often times it is a combination of reasons that contribute to test anxiety. Here are some potential causes:
- Perfectionistic tendencies/fear of failure. Maladaptive perfectionism is prevalent amongst the medical student population. Connecting one’s sense of worth and identity to performance can cause test anxiety.
- Stress around testing history. If previous test experiences have been anxiety-provoking or led to unexpected poor outcomes, this can add more anxiety with each additional testing experience.
- Underlying anxiety. Often times, students have a history of anxiety that can be exacerbated around testing experiences. This anxiety can contribute to one feeling like they haven’t studied enough, and it can cloud the academic journey leading to a sense of dread around studying and testing.
Overcoming Test Anxiety
Thankfully there are tools to support students in addressing and overcoming test anxiety. Each person’s needs will be different based on the reasons for test anxiety. Here are some strategies:
- Get enough restful sleep, especially before the test
- Reduce caffeine intake
- Consume nutritious foods
- Get exercise and movement throughout the week
- Spend time outdoors in nature
- Take meaningful regular breaks while studying (not mindlessly scrolling through news, social media or YouTube)
- Practice mindfulness or meditation at least once a day (Headspace is a helpful app to get started)
- Practice progressive muscle relaxation
Cognitive, Behavioral and Emotional Strategies
- Understand and address cognitive distortions
- Remember your strengths and remind yourself of why you want to become a physician
- Take a step back and reflect on who you are outside of being a medical student
- Reconnect with hobbies you enjoy
- Make time for social connection and reach out for social support
- Ask for support and testing if you think you might have a learning disability (like ADHD)
- Connect with a professional clinician who can help you come up with a successful plan, reduce negative self-talk, and feel more hopeful before exams
- Reach out to faculty to better understand how to prepare
- Get tutoring support from our learning specialist
We are here to support you in your medical school journey and want you to succeed. Sometimes it is helpful to consult with a psychiatrist and/or to meet with a licensed therapist. We have many professional clinicians on campus and as well as in the community who are preferred providers for the Student Health Plan who are ready to support you. See the Student Affairs webpage for counseling resources. Student may make medical and counseling appointments without a referral or without involving the School of Medicine Dean’s Office or any faculty. If you choose, you may contact Dr. Lamberton’s office for suggestions for counselors.
Cherry, K. (2020) Test anxiety symptoms, causes, and treatments. https://www.verywellmind.com/what-is-test-anxiety-2795368
what to do with fear and anxiety on the exam
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Many homeschoolers take intermediate assessments remotely. But sooner or later, everyone will have to face face-to-face work. For example, the All-Russian Testing Works (VPR), the MCKO diagnostics and, of course, the Main State Exam (OGE) and the Unified State Exam (USE).
It's normal to feel a little nervous before exams, especially if you've dealt primarily with online tests in the past. But don't let anxiety turn into fear and paralyze your mind. The following tips will help you overcome exam anxiety, get yourself together and demonstrate maximum knowledge in full-time work. nine0009
So what can you do to not worry before and during the exam?
Study the procedure
Play the certification procedure in your head. Find out what you can use during the exam, what form it will take, and if there are sample questions and tasks. The unknown is scary, especially if this is your first face-to-face exam. You will be able to cope with the excitement when you answer all the questions.
Tune in for the best
Imagine your perfect exam result. For example: "I solved all the tasks, answered all the questions and left with an excellent mark." The more detailed and varied your dreams are, the better. They will distract you from unnecessary worries and help you not to be afraid of the exam. nine0007
Rest the day before
The surest way to stop worrying before an exam is to get enough sleep and rest. You already know everything. You can only go over the problematic points in the morning before the exam. This will help you feel more confident.
Start with a simple one
In the first minutes of the written exam, run your eyes through all the tasks. Solve the easiest questions first to warm up and leave more time for solving difficult problems. The first answers will help you calm down and overcome the fear of a clean slate. nine0007
Plan your answer
On an oral exam or essay, plan your answer. So it will be easier to structure the information and not get confused in it yourself. Spend enough time on the plan, then you will write the text quickly and easily, and the excitement at the exam will decrease.
Breathing will help you not to worry during the exam. Close your eyes and take a few slow and deep breaths in and out. So you will quickly come to your senses and easily focus on work, forgetting about anxiety. nine0007
Calculate the time
Give each part of the work a certain amount of time and keep track of the timing. At the end of the exam, take your time and don't change anything in a hurry. Work at your own pace. It is better not to do everything in time than to do the rest of the work poorly.
The first face-to-face exam is always scary. Choose from our tips the most effective for yourself, which will help you not to be nervous in the exam. With experience, the excitement will pass, and you will no longer be afraid of exams.
Illustration: Tamuna Gogoladze / Dribbble
Family Education Assessments
Let's talk about how to prepare for the intermediate assessment, as well as the state final assessments - the OGE and the Unified State Examination. The consultation of our experts is free.
A consultant will contact you soon and tell you about studying at our online school. nine0009 Check your email - there is a letter about what to do before the consultation.
Oops :( Something went wrong. Try calling us at +7 (800) 500-17-81 or email [email protected].
How to cope with anxiety during exams: advice from a psychologist them to cope with the excitement.0009
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Clinical psychologist (Moscow State University named after MV Lomonosova), analytical psychologist, married therapist
tips for students
1. perceive anxiety before exam as a normal reaction of the body
Pre-exam jitters is a way to activate internal resources. When you are worried, the brain tries to help you. Try simply saying to yourself, "Okay, my palms are sweaty, I'm feeling nauseous, it looks like I'm experiencing anxiety." Awareness and speaking out of the situation is the first step to overcoming anxiety before the exam. nine0007
It is good if you know self-regulation techniques, such as meditation or breathing exercises. You just need to start practicing in advance - it makes no sense to study these techniques on the night before the exam.Source: freepik.com
2. Play the entire procedure of the exam in your head
The tantrums that schoolchildren have during metal detector inspections or at other stages of the exam are usually the result of stress accumulated during the preparation. The exam itself is just a catalyst for a burst of stress. However, the unknown is scary. nine0007
To minimize anxiety before the upcoming event, study in detail how the state exams are held. What time does it start? How is the exam site arranged? How is the screening done? What can and cannot be taken with you? How to go to the toilet? How to fill out forms? Find answers to all the questions that cause you anxiety so that you don't get nervous before the exam.
Then act out the whole procedure in your imagination, for example, together with your parents. This will allow you to feel more confident during the real exam and cope with anxiety. nine0007
3. Sleep and relax a little the day before
It is important to understand that the main work has already been done during the previous 11 years of study.
If you can repeat the material in a slow, relaxed way, great. If not, it is better to organize some kind of light physical activity. For example, going for a walk will help you calm yourself down before an exam.
4. Start following a regimen long before the exam so that you can fall asleep easier before it
Insomnia before important events is quite normal. Many adults find it difficult to fall asleep ahead of a significant trip or meeting.
But a pre-formed routine, as well as slight physical fatigue and fresh air will help you quickly find yourself in the realm of Morpheus. And one more thing: try not to overeat at dinner and no gadgets in bed.
5. Don't overdo it with a sedative, eat a chocolate instead.
Drinking valerian in the morning before an exam is pointless, like other sedatives, it has a cumulative effect and is unlikely to work. Only if as a placebo, when you are convinced that it will help you focus and deal with exam anxiety. nine0007
But chocolate really boosts the brain. But it is better to eat it at home, after a hearty breakfast. Rosobrnadzor does not prohibit eleventh-graders from taking water and chocolate with them to the exam, but at the entrance they will be checked for cheat sheets, and this is another reason to get nervous.
Instructions for parents about anxiety in the examSource: freepik.com / @peoplecreations
- Try to remain calm throughout the entire period of preparation for the exam and on the day of it. The state of the child is greatly influenced by the attitude of the family to the upcoming test. Do not frighten, do not exaggerate the importance of the Unified State Examination and the "catastrophic" nature of failure - do not increase the general anxiety. nine0004
- Make it clear that the results of the exam will not affect family relationships in any way. When a child knows that mom and dad will never stop loving him, he can feel more confident and calm and show his maximum potential.
- Convey a calm attitude towards screening, cameras and anything that makes the child nervous. Show attention to his worries and explain why all this is necessary.
- Help your child form the correct routine and distribute the study load during the preparation for exams. nine0004
- Take care of yourself. The best way to help your child calm down is to deal with your own anxiety. Surely you have the usual ways of self-regulation: sports, new tasks at work, communication with friends or a partner. It is often effective to seek additional support from a psychologist.
- If one of the two parents is less anxious and more calm, delegate support for the child during the exam to effectively teach them how to deal with anxiety before the exam. nine0004
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