Reducing Test-Taking Anxiety

General Advice

  • Sleep. Get a good night's rest.
  • Diet. Eat breakfast or lunch. This may help calm your nervous stomach and give you energy.  Avoid greasy or acidic foods, and avoid overeating. Avoid caffeine pills.
  • Exercise. Nothing reduces stress more than exercise. An hour or two before an examination, stop studying and go workout. Swimming, jogging, cycling, aerobics.

Before the Examination

  • Allow yourself enough time to get to the test without hurrying.
  • Don't swap questions at the door. Hearing anything you don't know may weaken your confidence and send you into a state of anxiety.
  • Leave your books at home. Flipping pages at the last minute may only upset you. If you must take something, take a brief outline that you know well. 

During the Examination

  • Take a watch with you, extra pencils, Scantron© sheets, and blue books.
  • Answer the easy questions first. This will relax you and help build your confidence, plus give you some assured points.
  • Sit apart from your classmates to reduce being distracted by their movements.
  • Don't panic if others are writing and you aren't. Your thinking may be more profitable than their writing.
  • Don't be upset if others finish their tests before you do. Use as much time as you are allowed. Students who leave early don't always get the highest grades.
  • If you still feel nervous during the test, try this: inhale deeply, close your eyes, hold, than exhale slowly. Repeat as needed. 

Bibliography

Ellis, David B. Becoming a Master Student. 
  College Survival, Inc.

Examination Skills and Techniques. Lincoln, Nebraska: 
  Cliff Notes, Inc., 1968.

Millman, Jason and Walter Pauk. How to Take Tests. 
  New York: McGraw-Hill, 1969.

Pauk, Walter. How to Study in College. (2nd ed.), Houghton Mifflin