How to to Remain Calm and Confident During an Exam

by W.D. Johnson

Tests are inherently stressful, but overcoming text anxiety is a must for performing maximally. Stressful feelings while preparing for or taking tests can hinder a student from thinking clearly enough to comprehend, retain and recall information needed to do well, no matter how knowledgeable and prepared he is otherwise. However, there are measures you can take both before and during your exam to help keep your nerves calm and your mind confident.

Prepare as thoroughly as possible well in advance of your test date. Cramming at the last minute will never make you feel as though you are as prepared as you could be, making it inevitable for you to feel some degree of doubt about your performance. The more intricately you know your material in advance, the less anxiety you will feel on test day, so stick to a diligent study schedule that allows you to cover and review all concepts by at least two days prior to your test. The night before the test should be fun or relaxing to help steady your emotions leading up to test time.

Sleep for eight to ten hours the night before your test to provide yourself with assurance that your mind will be alert and energetic enough for the extended periods of focus that your test will require.

Stick to brain foods rich in protein and complex carbohydrates for breakfast and snacks -- rather than junk food rich in sugar that will only provide short energy boosts and subsequent crashes -- to help keep your brain alert and focused throughout your test.

Consider the worst that could happen if you do not do well on your test. Realize that no potential outcome warrants extreme fear in the grand scheme of things. A failing score will not mean that you are a failure, that you will have no further opportunity for success, that your parents will stop loving you and so on.

Understand that you cannot do anything more than put your best foot forward. Think no more about worst case scenarios, and focus on doing everything in your power to ensure they do not come to fruition.

Visualize success rather than failure. Whatever you have to gain by doing well, picture it mentally in the days leading up to your test. See yourself getting your test back with a top score on it or receiving a letter of acceptance from your dream school.

Pause to breathe slowly and deeply whenever negative thoughts arise -- before and during test day. Take five seconds to inhale and five more to exhale. Repeat this measure until your anxiety subsides, even if you find it necessary during test time.

Give yourself a positive mental mantra, such as “I can do this,” or “I know this material” to quell any negative thoughts or anxious feelings as they arise. Practice catching negative thoughts the moment they surface -- and immediately combating them with your mantra to make a habit of maintaining a flow of positive thoughts.

About the Author

W.D. Johnson is a Los Angeles-based freelance writer and educational consultant. She specializes in writing development, test preparation and college admissions. Johnson graduated as a writing major from the University of Southern California's School of Cinematic Arts in 2008.

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