10 Ways to Fight Test Anxiety—and Win!


Ugh, tests. Taking them is a part of school life, but the test anxiety is real.

Still, they are pretty important in determining things like grades, class placements, and even graduate school admissions. Using these tips to overcome your test stress will leave you more confident in tackling whatever assessment comes your way. Here are a few tips to help!

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Before the test:

1.     Establish a steady study routine

If you have a big exam, there is no better way to boost your confidence than to know without a doubt that you have a good grasp on the material. Make a study plan early and stick to it! It’ll help you make it through all of the content that will be on your test, leaving time for practice tests.

2.     Ask your instructors for help

Professors are often open to helping students before exams. They typically hold office hours or review sessions, and you can usually email them if you’re struggling with a concept. Asking for general advice for creating a focused study plan can be a good idea, too. Many schools often have special resources for bigger tests like the GRE or the MCAT as well.

3.     Take care of yourself

A big part of test performance has to do with how your body is feeling. This means that getting enough sleep, eating well, and exercising are all practices that can help you on test day and reduce your anxieties.

4.     Practice mindfulness

If a test has you majorly stressed out, try practicing mindfulness. This means taking a moment before the exam to meditate, focusing on your body and clearing your mind. There are even many apps that you can download to help you incorporate mindfulness into your daily routine!

5.     Make sure you are prepared

The day before an exam, gather all of your materials and ensure that you know the exact testing location. Take a walk there if you have never been before, and become familiar with the environment. Organize everything you will need, like pens or a watch, and make sure that things like calculators have batteries and work correctly.

During the test:

6.     Think about time management.

Make sure you are pacing yourself during the exam. Often, students become stressed at the end of exams when they realize that they do not have enough time to finish answering every question. Keeping track of how much time you have throughout the exam will help you finish with fewer troubles.

7.     Keep water and gum nearby

Drinking or chewing on something during an exam can help to relieve stress. Water will help you stay hydrated and be refreshing, and gum can allow you to relieve some tension while you’re working.

8.     Take a break if necessary

If it is a long exam, such as a course final examination, you will probably have more time than you need to finish. If you feel yourself getting tired and need a break for a minute, go to the restroom or take a quick walk to re-energize.

9.     Check your work

Taking a moment to go back through your work can allow you to leave the exam with a clear picture of how you did, and it will ensure that you didn’t make any silly mistakes that you didn’t intend to make. Even if you only have five minutes, quickly skimming your answers can really help with post-test confidence.

After the test:

10.  Rest!

You’ve earned it! Even if you don’t feel that you did perfectly, it’s good to rest your body and not worry too much about the exam. If you really feel that the exam was really hard even after a lot of preparation, there could be a low mean score, making your relative performance better than you thought. Don’t stress, and be proud of the work that you put into the exam.

Test anxiety is normal, but don’t let it control you. Read through these tips before your big day, and use them to control your worries before, during, and after your exam.

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About the Author

Caleigh Propes

Caleigh is a junior at Yale University studying molecular biology. She is originally from Kentucky and enjoys all things related to health care policy, writing, traveling, and being outdoors.