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Test Anxiety

Reduce test anxiety by preparing before, during, and after an exam.

General Study Guidelines
  • Develop a study plan that allows plenty of time for reviewing all material.
  • Organize material so that the most important material will be given the greatest amount of time. If you have any questions, check with the instructor.
  • Keep a steady pace instead of cramming at the end. Rushing, either while studying or while taking a test, will work against you.
  • Study with another person or with a small group. Make sure your study partners don’t raise your anxiety level and are serious about working.
  • Take a 10-minute break approximately once an hour. Move away from the physical location where you are studying.
  • Adopt a sportsman's attitude: “Win if you can, lose if you must, but do the best you can.”
  • Plan a reward for yourself after the test no matter how well you feel you did.
  • Eat right. Get enough sleep. Build in time for relaxation.
The Day Before
  • Review major concepts. Attempting to learn new material may interfere with your recall of material you have already learned.
  • If you feel tense or anxious, take some time for physical exercise to burn off excess energy.
  • If you completed your study plan, go to a movie or watch some television. This form of mental relaxation will not interfere with your performance.
  • Get a good night's sleep. The better rested you are, the more likely it is that you'll perform at your maximum.
  • Avoid any friends who you know from the past to be "anxiety generators."
The Day of the Test
  • Engage in relaxed "non-thinking" activity the hour before the exam.
  • Get to the test on time.
  • When the exam is distributed, take time to read the directions twice.
Hints For Particular Types Of Test Questions
  • On multiple choice items, read all options first. Eliminate the obviously wrong alternatives first. Choose the "better" or "best" of the remaining alternatives.
  • On short answer and essay tests, do exactly what is asked. Overkill is usually a waste of time and annoying to the person who grades the paper.
  • On long essay questions, begin with an outline of your answer. Make sure all the important points in your outline are included in your response.
  • On true-or-false items, check for tricky words such as only, always, or most.
After The Test
  • Don't hash over what you might have done or mistakes you might have made.
  • Follow through on the reward you have promised yourself.
  • Regardless of the grade you receive, review the test carefully.
  • If you don't understand your grade or the grader's comments, make an appointment to discuss them.
  • Evaluate your study program. Consider ways you might want to alter it for the future.