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How to Combat Test Taking Anxiety

As the end of the school year approaches, many students are gearing up for end-of-year projects and final exams. As a therapist and school counselor, I have witnessed many children experience some form of anxiety related to their performance in school, especially during finals time. If this describes you or your child, follow these tips to help reduce your test-taking anxiety:

 

General Preparation & Building Your Confidence
  • Avoid waiting until the last minute to study!
  • Organize what material you need to be review/learn before you start studying
  • Review your performance on past tests/quizzes, so you can improve and not make the same mistake twice

 

Prior to taking the test…
  1. Approach your exam with confidence. View an exam as an opportunity to show how much you studied and to receive a reward for the studying you’ve done!
  2. Allow yourself plenty of time to do things you need to do before the test (i.e. restroom, snack, etc.) and get to your exam early!
  3. AVOID THE THOUGHT THAT YOU NEED TO CRAM just before the test.
  4. Try to maintain a relaxed state of mind. Avoid speaking with peers that are not prepared, express negativity, or distract you from your preparation.
  5. Exercise and engage in light physical activity. It can produce “feel good” chemicals in the body, as well as build confidence!
  6. Get a good night’s sleep. It can reduce tension and improve focus needed for test day.
  7. Don’t skip breakfast. Fresh fruits and vegetables can reduce stress. Try to avoid processed and junk foods.

 

During the test…
  1. Read the directions carefully
  2. Manage your test time
  3. Change positions in your seat to help you relax
  4. If you go blank on a question, skip it! Come back to the question when you have time.
  5. If your mind goes blank during an essay, pick a question and start writing. It may trigger the answer in your mind.
  6. Don’t panic about needing to turn in your test as quick as others!
  7. If you find yourself becoming tense and anxious, use relaxation techniques such as deep breathing.

 

After the test…
  1. Identify and list what worked, and hold onto these strategies
  2. List what did not work for improvement
  3. Celebrate your preparation and completion of the exam by participating in an activity you enjoy

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