Tips to Reduce Test-Taking Anxiety

By Abby Phillips
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Tips to Reduce Test-Taking Anxiety

by Abby Phillips


According to the American Test Anxieties Association, 16-20% of students have high test anxiety. While most people experience some anxiety before an exam or test, some experience extreme distress which affects their ability to perform. Here is a list of practices to help reduce test-taking anxiety:

Before the Test:

  • Prepare/Practice

Review the material in the week(s) leading up to the test. Establish study habits that work well for you and implement them. Do not wait until the night before to familiarize yourself with the material. Consider taking practice tests to give yourself a mock test day.

  • Get a Good Night’s Rest

Eating a balanced breakfast will give you the energy and brain power needed to perform well. Take this time to set goals for yourself. Mentally prepare yourself for the test you are taking and set goals.

  • Arrive Early

Give yourself plenty of time to get to the classroom or wherever you’ll be taking the test. Take time to find a seat of your choosing and do your best to relax. Find a mindful distraction like a newspaper or puzzle to occupy your time before the test.

  • Eliminate Distractions

Make an effort to avoid distractions from other influences at the testing location. Avoid engaging in social interactions that may cause anxious thoughts or feelings. Use this time to relax and clear your mind.

During the Test:

  • Skim Over the Test

When you are given the test, briefly skim over the questions to get a feel for what will be covered. Take a deep breath to relax yourself and begin.

  • Follow a Routine

During the test, follow an established routine for reading and answering questions. Read each question carefully so you can best understand what is asked. Read all answer options and make your choice. Do not rush through the test, pace yourself and take each question one at a time.

  • Self-Meditation

If you find yourself anxious during the test, practice self-meditation techniques. Use the focused breathing technique and inhale through your nose and out through your mouth. Concentrate on a calm and safe location and take long, deep breaths to relax, focusing on your breathing. Once you feel yourself calming down, begin on the next question.

  • Positive Self-Talk

Keep a positive mindset throughout the test-taking process. Focus on the small victories throughout the test. Count each question completed as a victory. Once you are finished with the test, treat yourself with a reward for your success!

Let us know what works for you. Comment below and share your tips to reduce test-taking anxiety!