Although a bit of nervousness is typical of students taking an important exam, suffering from test anxiety is not typical. Text anxiety is a type of performance anxiety that can cause feelings of panic, shortness of breath and an inability to focus or remember important information. It can make even the brightest, most prepared students do poorly. Luckily, if you suffer from test anxiety, there are steps you can take to prevent or stop test anxiety from occurring so you can start receiving the scores you deserve.
Get prepared intellectually. It's important to feel like you know the information backward and forward. You can't cram for the test the night before and expect to know the material. Give yourself time to adequately learn the material and you will be confident enough when test time comes.
Get prepared mentally. This includes giving yourself a pep talk about how well you are going to do on the test. Keep all your thoughts about taking the test positive. Turn negative thoughts into positive ones, as negative self-talk could be one of the biggest reasons for test anxiety.
Stop being a perfectionist. It's okay to make mistakes. If you feel like you won't accept anything but perfection, you are just setting yourself up for failure because no one is perfect. Teach yourself that mistakes are natural and normal and just part of the learning process.
Try relaxation exercises. Taking a minute to take some long, deep breaths whenever you feel yourself starting to get worked up can help you stay calm and focused. You can also concentrate on tensing and relaxing various muscle groups in your body as a relaxation method as well.
Take physical advantages. Be early, try to find a comfortable seat, with good lighting, in a good location of the classroom. Get a good night's sleep the night before the test and have a nutritional meal before going in to take the test.
Keep calm during the test. If you don't know the answer, don't panic. Instead, just skip that question and go on to the ones you do know. Don't worry about other students turning in their papers ahead of you--that may be just because they didn't know anything.
Use trial and error. Even if this test-taking experience ends up being negative, use it as a way to see which techniques worked for you and which ones did not. Using this trial and error approach will ensure that you have consistently less test anxiety with every testing experience.
Ask for help. If test anxiety interferes with your ability to take tests, don't be afraid to seek help from your teacher or guidance counselor if you are a high school student, or from your Student Services Department if you are a college student. There may be something they can do that will help, such as allowing you to take the test in a room by yourself with no distractions or allowing you extra time to take the test.
Chewing on gum or sucking on a mint while taking the test may also help.
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