Overcoming Test Anxiety
You went to class, completed your homework, and studied. You arrived at the exam confident about the material. But sometimes, especially if you have test anxiety, taking the test can be the most difficult part of the equation.
Causes of Test Anxiety
Causes of Test Anxiety
- Fear of failure. While the pressure to perform can act as a motivator, it can also
be devastating to individuals who tie their self-worth to the outcome of a
- Lack of preparation. Waiting until the last minute or not studying at all can leave
individuals feeling anxious and overwhelmed.
- Poor test history. Previous problems or bad experiences with test-taking can lead to
a negative mindset and influence performance on future tests.
- Physical symptoms: headaches, nausea, diarrhea, excessive sweating, shortness of breath, feeling lightheaded
- Emotional symptoms: feelings of anger, fear, worthlessness
- Cognitive symptoms: difficulty thinking, concentrating, recalling information you learned before
Strategies for Managing Test Anxiety
- Be prepared.
Develop good study habits. Study at least a week or two before the exam, in smaller
increments of time and over a few days (instead of pulling an
"all-nighter"). Try to simulate exam conditions by working through a
practice test, following the same time constraints.
- Develop good test-taking skills. Read the directions carefully, answer questions you know first
and then return to the more difficult ones. Outline essays before you begin to
- Maintain a positive attitude. Remember that your self-worth should not be dependent on or
defined by a test grade. Creating a system of rewards and reasonable
expectations for studying can help to produce effective studying habits. There
is no benefit to negative thinking.
- Stay focused.
Concentrate on the test, not other students during your exams. Try not to talk
to other students about the subject material before taking an exam.
- Practice relaxation techniques. If you feel stressed during the exam, take deep, slow breaths and
consciously relax your muscles, one at a time. This can invigorate your body
and will allow you to better focus on the exam.
- Stay healthy. Get
enough sleep, eat healthfully, exercise and allow for personal time. If you are
exhausted—physically or emotionally—it will be more difficult for you to handle
stress and anxiety.
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