How to Reduce Test Anxiety | GUTS Tip

Test anxiety can be difficult for many students. While it may be unrealistic to try to eliminate test anxiety completely, one can certainly work to reduce it. We will discuss some tips to reduce test anxiety in this article.

Try to think about your anxiety symptoms differently.

Take a moment to consider the signs of anxiety: fast heartbeat, sweaty palms, butterflies, and so on. Now consider the signs of excitement: fast heartbeat, sweaty palms, and butterflies. They’re almost indistinguishable.

When you feel anxious before a test, try to “fool” your anxiety by telling yourself it is excitement instead of nerves.

Make sure you are adequately preparing in advance.

The more you prepare, the easier it may be to calm your nerves. Don’t try to simply cram a night or two before the test. Instead, consistently review the material over the course of the semester. 

Experiment to find the right level of preparation for you in which you feel prepared but not overwhelmed or burned out.

When studying, it may be helpful to try to recreate the test conditions as much as possible. Find an empty classroom to do your studying in, recreate time constraints, ask yourself questions in the way that they are most likely to be asked on the exam. (If you don’t know how they will be asked, check in with your professor.)

Practice breathing techniques during the exam.

Keeping your breathing under control during moments of anxiety is key to keeping your symptoms under control. You should breathe through your stomach instead of your chest, breathing in through your nose and out through your mouth.

Try strategies such as the 4-7-8 technique or the 7-11 technique. The former includes breathing in for 4 seconds, holding the breath for 7 seconds, and exhaling for 8 seconds. The latter includes breathing in for 7 seconds, breathing out for 11 seconds, and repeating.

Activate tunnel vision.

Try to stay as focused as possible on your exam, as opposed to other things in the room. For example, if you get distracted by someone else turning in their exam early and that increases your symptoms of test anxiety, remind yourself that even if the whole class finishes before you, it doesn’t affect your ability to do well on the test and paying attention to anything other than your own test is only affecting your time and energy.

Adjust your perspective.

Consider how much the test matters: unless your degree rides on a single test, chances are you can bounce back from any loss that comes from a less-than-great performance.

As long as you are applying yourself outside of the classroom and still putting in the work to retain and learn the information, the test won’t be a deciding factor of your future.

Written by Freya Wan

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*This is an opinion post. While the topics described here are mostly based on research, please keep in mind not to assume all of the information described above is factual.

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