Test Anxiety

What is Test Anxiety?

Taking a test, giving a speech and engaging in a job interview are all situations that can evoke extra physical and mental tension.  This extra physical and mental tension can serve to make one more alert, focused and energized.  However, too much tension can cause worry, shakiness; difficulty focusing and can interfere with performance.  It is this “too much tension” that is often referred to as test anxiety.

What can I do?

During the quarter: practice anxiety and stress management techniques

The night before:

  • Review exam material and avoid cramming.
  • Eat a healthy meal and get 6 to 8 hours of sleep.
  • Practice relaxation techniques.

The morning of:

  • Eat a healthy breakfast/lunch and avoid overindulgence.
  • Use self-affirming language and practice how to intervene in negative thoughts.
  • Allow enough time to assure that you have the necessary materials and can get to the test site without rushing.
  • Bring water if allowed. 

Before and during the test:

Focus through the use of relaxation exercises (allow your mind a break from other concerns)

Deep breathing

  • Exhale (“cleansing breath”)
  • Breathe in deeply and slowly through your nose
  • Hold
  • Exhale deeply and slowly through your mouth
  • Repeat 1 – 2 times

Progressive relaxation:  tense and relax various muscle groups particularly neck and shoulders

Intervene when you become aware of negative thoughts by the use of positive affirmations

  • “I did study for this and I am prepared.”
  • “It’s normal to feel a little nervous.”
  • “Yes, this looks like a difficult problem.  I can break it down just as I did when I studied.”
  • “I can go to the next question and come back to this one.”
  • “I can take a few deep breaths and calm down.”