Test Anxiety

It is natural to feel anxious about writing exams. To keep the anxiety levels to a minimum, try following these suggestions:

Before the Exam:

  • Two important steps you can take to manage test anxiety are to be prepared and well rested before you begin. It is better to have many short study sessions over the semester than an intensive night of studying right before the exam.
  • Carefully read your course outline and modules outcomes a few days before the exam to make sure you know the content on which you will be tested. If you have questions, contact your instructor for clarification.
  • It is easier to think clearly when you have had a good rest the night before. Try to avoid the temptation to review everything the night before an exam. Go to bed early and rest well so you will be ready for the next day.

During the Exam:

  • Do a “Brain dump.” If you are allowed to do so, write down any formulas or memorization strategies on a scrap piece of paper so you don’t forget them.
  • If you feel your anxiety rising to the point that it affects your ability to think clearly, stop and take several deep breaths. This will help calm your mind and clear your head. You can also talk privately to yourself during the exam to stay calm and positive.
  • When you feel ready, go back to the test and mark the difficult questions. Leave those and move on to questions that are easier.

After the Exam:

  • Immediately after your test, reflect on your performance. Ask yourself:

    • What did I do well?
    • What could I have prepared for more effectively?
    • What did I learn about test taking for my next test?
    • What questions do I still have about the content?
    There is a chance that you may be asked questions about some of the same content on a later exam, so now is a good time to review your course work and highlight what you did not know during this test.

For more information and resources on test anxiety, check out AnxietyBC.