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OWL - Online Writing Lab: Test Anxiety

Collection of short tutorials created by ASC, the Academic Support Center staff, to help students successfully execute the writing requirements at Louisville Seminary.

Test Anxiety

When taking a test, do you ever?

Become queasy
Seem to be immobile
Tense up your muscles
Experience a mental block
Feel your heart beating much too fast
Go into the test with a lot of self-doubt
Worry about the last test-the one you failed

You have test anxiety!!

Here are some strategies to help you before, during, and after tests so that you can reduce your anxiety level and make that A.

Before the Test

  • Learn the material-be prepared.
  • Practice taking the same type of test so that you can concentrate on the questions instead of the test form.
  • Get a good night's sleep the night before.
  • Don't go into the test on an empty stomach.
  • Eat fresh fruits and vegetables. Avoid processed foods, artificial sweeteners, soft drinks, chocolate, snack foods, sugar, and caffinenated beverages. These foods often intensify stress.
  • Arrive to the test early so that you aren't creating a stressful situation because you're rushing.
  • Avoid people who are nervous and might cause you to become even more so.
  • Don't try to do last minute review.
  • Decide on a treat that you are going to reward yourself with-a movie, a swim, a walk in the park, coffee with a friend.

During the Test

  • Stay positive and confident. Remind yourself that you are well prepared and are going to do well. Remember that you don't have to be perfect.
  • Get comfortable. Choose a good spot to take the test with plenty of room to work.
  • Preview the test. Spend a few minutes looking over the test, marking key terms and deciding how to budget your time.
  • Answer the questions in strategic order. Answer the easy questions first, leaving more time for the more difficult ones. Next, answer those with the highest point value.
  • Know when to guess when taking a multiple choice or matching test. Eliminate answers you know are wrong leaving fewer "right" choices.
  • Don't change your answer unless you are sure of the correction since your first choice is usually correct.
  • Save some time to review. Make sure you have answered all the questions-look on the backs of the pages. Check over the directions to make sure you have followed them.
  • Don't try to be the first finished.
  • Think about the post-exam treat that you have promised yourself.
  • If you find yourself panicking try one of these quick exercises.
  • Close your eyes and deep breathe for one or two minutes.
  • Tense and then relax your back and neck muscles.
  • Imagine a peaceful place.
  • Engage in positive self-talk.

After the Test

  • Remember that treat that you promised yourself? Go for it!
  • Relax, you have earned it!
  • Think back to the test and its organization and questions so that you can prepare for the next one.