What Is Test Anxiety & What Can You Do About It?

It’s normal to stress a little whenever you’re going to have an exam, but if you find yourself freezing up or blanking out even when you’ve studied hard and know the material, you could have test anxiety.

What is test anxiety?

Test anxiety is a form of performance anxiety. You want to do well, but get so worried about it that the stress gets the better of you. You might be such a perfectionist that you feel nothing you do will be good enough, so you hold yourself back from trying. Or you might think, “I’m not good at this subject”, and sabotage yourself before you’ve even gotten started.

The more important the exam, the greater the anxiety levels. If you’re taking an exam that might determine your whole future career, such as Board exams for nursing or law school, the more your anxiety might get the better of you if you’re not careful.

Anxiety takes its toll.

Even if you know your stuff and have studied hard, you can get anxious about tests. That anxiety can hold you back from the success you deserve. You might feel physically ill. You might panic before you’ve even looked at the best paper. Your nerves might make you misread the question and not use your time to your best advantage for the highest score.

Taking control of test anxiety

If any of these situations sound familiar, it’s time to take control of your test anxiety. First, identify why you are so anxious. Is it fear of failure, being worried you are not prepared enough, or do you struggle generally with stress? Once you get to the heart of the reasons why you’re so worried about tests, you can do something about them.

For example, are you not studying enough? Be more consistent and don’t try to cram. Are you studying too much and getting burned out, and/or suffering from information overload? Be sure what is on the test and study for it, not your entire knowledge of the subject.

Are your test-taking skills not very good generally? See if there is help for this at your college. Consider taking a course geared around a Board exam as well, to learn all the little tips and tricks that can add up to a better score.

At the start of the test, spend a few minutes reading through the questions. If it is an essay type question, for example, write out the whole question, which will steady your nerves and help you focus.

For those questions that are multiple choices, underline key words to focus your thoughts on what answer they are looking for.  Leave 10 minutes at the end to check over your work. In this way you will panic less and hopefully get more points.

Master the basics of your subject.

If you are studying chemistry, create a list of the most important formulas and read it through at least once a day leading up to the exam. Once you have the basics under your belt, you will feel a lot less worried about taking tests.


Wondering what to do next? Schedule a 15-minute phone consultation to start your plan with our test anxiety expert.

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