Test Anxiety: How you can change it

Imagine this…

it’s the day of your big test in first hour. Where your knowledge of all the information you’ve been learning this trimester will be questioned. So many thoughts are running through your head: “Did I study enough” ,”What if I fail”, ” “What was the formula for that kind of question”, or “AHHHHH!”. You’re heartbeat is speeding up. Your palms are sweaty. You stomach is feeling a little rumbly  Finally you walk into the room and sit down. “Wheres my pencil!?” But you find one. The teacher hands out the test and you write your name on the top of it. They announce that you can begin the test and suddenly you forget all of the information! People are finishing the test before you and you’re getting distracted. “Wait, answers 1,2,3,4 are all B…that doesn’t happen. I think I made a mistake!”You’re one of the last in the room so you hurry up and guess on the last few questions. You spend the next few days worrying about how you did.


Sound familiar? A lot of you have encountered one or all of these thoughts. You’re not alone. You might suffer from  Test Anxiety. This can be a very challenging because the stress you feel is what stops you from being able to learn new information and makes it hard to remember things that you do know. But not to worry. There are things you can do to get better at dealing with these emotions. Lets run through some.

1.) Focus on your thoughts

The first thing you need to do is realize what the voice inside you head is telling you. Is it helping you or hurting you? In life, if you are thinking something bad is going to happen, such as failing a test, our bodies natural reaction is to fear that or feel anxious towards the situation. So, if thinking you’ll fail makes you nervous and scared, telling yourself you can succeed can make you feel calm and confident. 

Test Anxiety Diagram

 

2.) Focus on your feelings

Realize you’re feeling anxious. This sounds easy, but you’d be surprised. You need to pay attention to your feelings in the moment and ask yourself these questions. 

  • What am I thinking right now?
  • What is making me feel anxious?
  • What am I worried will happen?
  • What bad thing do I expect to happen?

A trick to help with this is to write it down. Here is an example to follow:

Test Anxiety 2

3.) Failing to prepare = Preparing to fail

The best way to fight anxiety is to prepare. The key to this is GOOD study habits. You may be afraid you’re going to fail the test because, lets face it, you didn’t REALLY study. Maybe you read your notes a couple of times and convinced yourself you “studied” or you reviewed the chapter but did that thing where you read but don’t really remember anything from that page you just read. We all know what I’m talking about.

Here are some good study habits that could help:

  • Space out your studying over a few days or even weeks. Especially when you know a test is coming.
  • Schedule the days and time you will study. No more “I’ll study later” or “Not right now”. Put it on your calendar and stick to it!
  • Break up what your studying into small chunks and study those over a long period of time.
  • Change up where you study. Don’t study in the exact same place every time. Try moving around.
  • Get a good nights sleep the night before a test day. This seems simple, because it is.
    No more “one more game” of Call of Duty or League of Legends. Set a bedtime and put that phone away!
  • Don’t study the stuff you already know. You might feel good when you practice the math problems you’re good at, but don’t fool yourself. Focus on studying the stuff you struggle with.
  • Say it out loud. Talk to yourself out loud and describe terms and concepts. It makes your brain process it multiple ways.
  • Take breaks. Like 5 minutes…TOPS. But stay off of social media. No YouTube, Twitter, Pinterest, Snapchat, instagram, Facebook, Reddit, or whatever else you’re into these days. You know it’s true!
  • Exercise. Physical activity helps your body keep a balance and keeps you mentally strong as well as physically.

Remember “without action there is no change”. Pick 2 things from this list your going to do. Go on….DO IT.

shia do itshia do it 2

 

4.) Test Day Tips

Here are some simple things you can do the day of a test to stay calm.

  • Show up early. Don’t chat it up during passing time. Go right to class and get comfortable. Keep your eye on the prize.
  • Deep Breathes. Focus on your breathing to stay relaxed and calm.
  • Remind yourself how you have prepared and that you are ready for this. Say “I’m ready for this”

Once the test is out.

  • Skim through the test. It will give you a good idea how to pace yourself.
  • Write down important formulas, facts, definitions, or keywords on the side of your page.
  • Try to do the questions you know right away. That way you’ll feel confident that you know your stuff.
  • Skip questions you don’t know and come back to them.
  • Focus on the question. Don’t let you mind wander or worry about other questions. Just that one questions right now.
  • Don’t pay attention to the people around you. Whether your the first to finish or the last. It doesn’t matter AT ALL.

5.) Keep it in perspective

No test or grade defines who you are or what you are capable of. Remind yourself of that. Some people are just naturally better test takers than others, but be careful to not use this as an excuse. Your grade is your grade and you earn what you get. If you have, without doubt, worked hard to earn that C, be proud of that C.  If you’ve worked hard for the A, be proud of that A. As Upward Bound advisors we are proud of your accomplishments when we see you’ve been working hard and so should you. So, if you struggle with this please feel free to talk to any of us and we can do what we can to help you.


 

      So if you’ve casually skimmed through this post, here’s the one thing I hope you get from this. Test anxiety is all about you. Your thoughts. Your Emotions. Your Study Habits. Your Perspective. You create the thoughts and situations that cause fear. So be honest with yourself on where you can improve and where you’re afraid to fall. Then take action to create a solution.

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