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How to reduce test anxiety

Most students experience some level of anxiousness when taking a test, but it is when it interferes with test performance that it is deemed excessive and labeled as 'test anxiety.' Test anxiety is often defined in physiological terms: sweaty palms, going blank, butterflies, lightheadedness and other symptoms that mirror illness.

If you find yourself displaying symptoms of test anxiety, there are methods and tips to follow that can help reduce your stress level.

• Take an honest look at your study skills and develop areas that are weaker to ensure successful learning efficiency. If you are easily distracted, work on focus. If you have trouble making time to study, carve out a study schedule, and stick to it.

• Be prepared. The more time you give yourself to prepare and learn the material the more confident you will feel the day of the exam. Avoid the last minute cram session. The more time you have spent working through the material, the more comfortable you will be with it.

• Keep organized and on task. Keep to a schedule so that you know internally that you gave yourself enough time to study.

• Get enough sleep starting two nights before the exam. Roughly six to eight hours are recommended for the average person, but if you feel better with more, try to get more.

• Keep hydrated by drinking plenty of water. Stress headaches can be set off by dehydration.

• Exercise to help eliminate stress. Even a short daily walk can help to release negative internal tension.

• Eat well balanced meals. Make sure you eat breakfast or lunch before the exam with at least 20 minutes to digest your food. Do not eat greasy foods or drink caffeinated drinks they may upset your stomach.

• Stay relaxed by practicing deep breathing techniques.

On the day of the exam, keep the following tips in mind to reduce test anxiety:

• Give yourself enough time to get to the exam and find a comfortable seat. Get your writing utensils ready (have a few extra on hand) and any paper or supplies that you may need. Take a couple of minutes to close your eyes and take a couple of deep breaths.

• Do not discuss the material with other students who may make you second guess your knowledge of the material.

• Do not bring your class materials with you. Going through the test information at the last second will only make you nervous.

Test anxiety while taking the exam can happen. Stay focused by implementing the following techniques:

• Review the entire exam before answering any questions. Read the instructions twice to be clear on what is expected.

• Occasionally stretch so that your body stays relaxed.

• If your mind goes blank then put your pencil down, sit up straight, take two or three deep breaths, then pick up your pencil again and begin. If you don't immediately recognize the question then go on to the next, and come back to the question that stumped you later.

• Stay positive and remind yourself that you studied appropriately and that you know the material.

• Remind yourself that some anxiety is normal and stay confident that you know the material.

• Try to not pay attention to others movements or if they turn in their exams before you. You do not get points for being the first one to turn in your exam. Take the time that you need to not only stay relaxed, but to give each question the focus it needs.

By following the above tips, you can help to alleviate your test anxiety. With practice, patience, and focus, you can overcome excessive apprehension that you may feel when taking a test. For additional assistance please contact our Student Success Center.

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