Whether you like it or not, tests and exams are an integral part of any college education, and you are going to deal with them no matter what course you take. However, right now you probably think something along these lines: “It is all very well for you to say, but what am I supposed to do if I freeze up in a panic before each and every one of my tests? I know the subject, but I just cannot deal with test anxiety!”
Well, if this is what causes you problems in college, then you are in luck – in this article, you will find all the tricks you need to pace yourself and do your best in your next test.
Diaphragmatic breathing is a breathing exercise that helps you strengthen your diaphragm, improve the flow of oxygen to the brain and calm yourself down. You can find numerous guides to diaphragmatic breathing on the Internet – download any of them and follow their indications. Check out breathwrk.com to learn more. The next time you find yourself in a stressful situation, focus on your breathing and perform this exercise for a few minutes. It will help you put your nerves in order.
Most likely, you have at least some idea of what your future test is going to be like. Your teachers/professors always tell you what topics are covered in the test and how it is organized. If you aim to deal with your fear of the upcoming test, learn as much as possible about it and take a mock exam with the same constraints as the real one. Give yourself exactly the same amount of time, ask somebody to prepare questions covering the same topics, use the same materials you will be supposed to use during the real exam. It will help you see if you really have something to worry about.
Find out what types of assignments the test contains. Will it be a multiple-choice test? An essay? A freeform answer? If you practice doing similar tasks enough, you will be less likely to be surprised by an unusual turn of the actual test. “Write an essay about my life? After I wrote half a dozen essays on random topics, this one is easy!”
Many problems in life can be solved via the establishment of the right routines, and test anxiety is not an exception. If you have an already existing algorithm you follow every time you deal with a test, you are less likely to succumb to panic and waste time. You simply follow what you always do and mechanically deal with the problems one by one. For example, you may give yourself a fixed amount of time to scan through the test and pick familiar assignments you can quickly do for some easy points. Then move on to the assignments that can yield the most points. Finish with writing at least something in the assignments you are not sure about. You may fail to give the full answer, but writing a single paragraph is better than writing nothing.
Let’s say you write your English test and stumble upon a question you are unfamiliar with. What is the first thing many students do? Right, they start looking around and watching what others do. What are they scribbling so furiously? What do they know that I don’t? It is a surefire recipe for panic and anxiety. Instead, focus on your own work and pretend that other people do not exist. They do not concern you.
Don’t be in too much of a hurry. There is nothing worse than putting precious time into answering a question or writing an essay, only to discover that you have failed to notice some detail in the question and now have to start over. It is frustrating enough when you do homework; it can be fatal during a time-limited test. Take your time, read every task carefully and make sure you understand it correctly before you proceed to write.
Have a nutritious breakfast the morning before the test and take the right snacks along to keep you energized throughout the process. Aim for the foods that provide a steady stream of nutrients rather than sugar-heavy choices. The latter may give you a short-term spike of energy during the sugar rush, but it is always followed by a crash that will leave you sluggish and even more prone to panic and anxiety.
Test anxiety is a very real problem thousands of students have to deal with every day. Fortunately, with the right mindset and approach to work, it is possible to keep it at bay.