Test Anxiety Tips

What is Test Anxiety?


Do you:

  • Panic on tests
  • “Blank out”
  • Forget what you have studied
  • Can recall the material after the test? 
  • Avoid tests as much as possible?


You may have test anxiety.

It can start as early as in elementary school. It affects everyone regardless of: ages, gender, ethnicity, and socioeconomic background. The data has shown it has risen significantly over the last decade. Test anxiety is an emotional state, not an intellectual concern. Intense emotional feeling about ability to test well can cause test anxiety.


What Causes Test Anxiety

  • Time Limits on Tests
  • The Fear of Public Embarrassment
  • The Fears of Failure and Feeling of Inadequacy
  • Negative Self Talk


Symptoms of Test Anxiety

Panic during Tests

  • MIND GOES BLANK DURING THE TEST – this is very common where students will forget everything they have studied. This is a sign of test anxiety.
  • Tension
  • Nervousness
  • Concern
  • Worry
  • Edginess
  • Impatience
  • Confusion
  • Fear


Physical symptoms 

  • Nausea
  • Shortness-of-breath
  • Sweating
  • Heart palpitations
  • Increased blood pressure



Test Taking Strategies


Before a Test:

1) Take care of yourself the days and morning before the test

  • The days before the test relax and focus on studying.
  • Get good amounts of sleep, and food.
  • Showers before the exam to feel fresh and ready.
  • Try to keep mind clear and my body strong.


2) Review Notes

  • Review notes in order to instill them in my brain.


3) Morning of the test

  1. The morning of the test trying to stay positive and calm. Tell yourself positive things about yourself and how much you have prepared for the test.


4) Time

  • Make it on time to the exam on time.


5) Shake it Off

  • Physical activity is the best way to remove stress from the body.
  • Prior to a test:
    • Hit the gym
    • Stretch
    • Go for a brisk walk.


6) Power Posing

  • Trying doing this before a test when you are in a private space like the bathroom.
  • Body language = Reduce stress
  • Standing up straight and making yourself big
  • Lower cortisol (the stress hormone)
  • Increasing testosterone (improving your ability to handle stress)
  • Standing tall with your arms extended outward for several minutes prior to test

power pose


7) Remind Yourself You might See Some a Problem on the Test You Do not know and it is OK

  • Tell yourself you might see some problems you do not know
  • It will be OK to not know them
  • Focus on the ones you do know


During a Test

1) Combat negative thinking

  • Negative self-talk (cognitive anxiety) is defined as the negative statements you tell yourself before and during tests.  Negative self-talk causes students to lose confidence and to give up on tests. Students need to change their negative self-talk to positive self-talk.
  • During tests, positive self-talk can build confidence and decrease your test anxiety. Using positive self-talk before a test can help reduce your test anxiety and improve your grades.
  • Replace negative thoughts…
    • “I can’t do this”
    • “I’ve never been good at math”
    • “I won’t finish in time”
  • …..with confidence- building affirmations
    • “I know this”
    • “I’m prepared”
    • “I can do this”


2) Stress Management and Relaxation Techniques

  • When to start to feel anxious during a test follow these steps:
    • Sitting in a comfortable position with your spine straightened
    • Feet flat on the floor
    • Close your eyes
    • Breath in deeply through your nose
    • Expanding your belly along with your chest and then slowly exhaling
    • Count to Ten and Breath
      • Most ancient forms of stress reduction
      • Focusing all attention on breathing
      • Letting go of everything else


3) Fists of Fury

  • How to:
    • Tightly squeeze your hands into fists
    • Hold for several seconds
    • Then release
    • Visualize all your stress floating away.
  • This works particularly well if you have a stress ball.


4) Pull and Push

  • How to:
    • Put your feet flat on the floor.
    • With your hands, grab underneath the chair.
    • Push down with your feet and pull up on your chair at the same time for about five seconds.
    • Relax for five to ten seconds.
    • Repeat the procedure two or three times.


5) Visualize a Happy Place

  • During an exam if you start to feel anxiety starting start to visual a happy place.
  • Create a place that is safe and comfortable.
  • For example: a room, a cabin in the woods, or an imaginary land where you are protected by fire-breathing dragons!
  • Use your senses to fully enter the safe place.
  • Notice how it looks, paying attention to even the smallest details.
  • Notice the sounds, or the silence.
  • Stay in this place for a while, and go there whenever you need to soothe and calm yourself.


6) Breathing Colors

  • Choose two different colors, one to breathe in and one to breathe out.
  • Blue works well for the in-breath, since it matches the cool feeling of the air coming in.
  • Red works well for the out-breath, as it matches the warm feeling of the air leaving your body.
  • However, choose the colors you want, for the reasons you want. Close your eyes and pair each color with its breath.


7) Positive Memories

  • Remember a positive event from your life, and use your imagination to transport yourself back to that time and place.
  • Play it in your mind as if it is a movie, and tune in to your senses to fully enter into the memory.


8) Count your Senses - 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 senses

  • To increase your awareness and ground yourself in the present moment
  • List five things you see
  • Four things you hear
  • Three things you feel
  • Two things you smell
  • One thing you taste


9) Personal Song or Quote

  • Sing a song to yourself that you love
  • Say a Quote to yourself you enjoy
    • “There are no secrets to success. It is the result of preparation, hard work, and learning from failure.”
    • “Self-belief and hard work will always earn you success.”
    • “A dream doesn't become reality through magic; it takes sweat, determination and hard work.”
    • “The best preparation for tomorrow is doing your best today.”


10) Use ear plugs during the test


11) Put the Anxiety into a Box

  • Identify that the anxiety exists and use an exercise - visualize anxiety as a small box to the side of you; it is there, but it is neatly put away and will not harm you because you have recognized it