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Tips to Manage Exam Anxiety

8/10/2012


What if I forget everything I know? Did I sleep enough? What if my pencil breaks? Did I study enough? Am I going to pass?

It’s the end of the school year, and students (and their parents) are beginning to feel the stress associated with taking tests.

Exam anxiety can happen before or during a test. “Familiarity and relaxation go hand-in-hand,” says Dr. Michelle Barnum, psychiatrist with New Leaf Psychiatry & Counseling Center. “Adequate preparation, as well as understanding the test taking conditions will help students relax as much as possible.” She recommends these easy strategies to calm pre-test jitters and help manage anxious feelings.

Do:

  • Visit the restroom 15 minutes prior to the start of the test.
  • Actively listen to any verbal instructions provided.
  • Quietly and occasionally change body positions during the test.
  • For extra energy, eat a small handful of raisins and nuts (if allowed).
  • Practice positive self-talk when faced with any challenge: “I’m safe. I’m calm.    I can handle this. I will do my best!”
  • Work on the easiest test portions first   (if possible).
  • Breathe effectively to keep your brain relaxed.

Don’t:
  • Arrive too early or late.
  • Forget to breathe properly during the test.“Good air in, bad air out.”
  • Cram.
  • Stay up late studying the night before. You need your sleep to do your best!

“Whether children are in elementary school taking standardized tests, in high school taking the ACT to prepare for college admission, or are young adults facing their first college final exams, there are practical things they can do to prepare for success.”

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