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Alleviating Test Anxiety

Alleviating Test Anxiety; Healthy Habits For Test Preparation


The pressure that comes with tests can be difficult to manage for students. Depending on many variables, it can range from mild to quite severe in some cases. But no difficulty or challenge is too great to overcome, even the most egregious case of nerves when sitting down for a test. 


There are many things that can be done in order to feel more calm, cool and collected on exam day. 


Make sure you are thoroughly rested. It can be hard to get a good night’s sleep before a big test. You want to get as much studying done as possible in the time that you have to prepare. When you finally close your eyes for the night, your mind is on your studies, worrying about whether you are as prepared as you need to be. 


Sleep plays a major role in memory retention and focus, but sleep disruption is also a recognized symptom of anxiety disorders. So for those who struggle with anxiety on a broader scale, throwing exam stress into the mix makes a solid sleep very challenging, but it is an essential part of what will ensure your mind is ready for the upcoming day and is able to focus on the task at hand. Make sure that you give yourself around 2 hours to relax before laying down for the night. Turn off electronics, read a book, stretch, tidy your room, etc. Whatever it is that makes you feel calm and clears your mind. Though it can be tempting to study late into the night right up to the time you go to sleep, allowing yourself a good night’s rest after winding down will help your future self sit down for the big test.


Get plenty of exercise. An article posted in Scientific American, states that exercise affects the brain in many ways. It increases heart rate, which pumps more oxygen to the brain. It aids the release of hormones which provide an excellent environment for the growth of brain cells. Exercise also promotes brain plasticity by stimulating the growth of new connections between cells in many important cortical areas of the brain. It changes the chemistry in our brain, resulting in a calming effect and reduction in feelings of anxiety, which makes it a crucial addition to your healthy test-prep habits. 


Practice positive self-talk. When the time comes to sit down for your exam, even after copious amounts of studying, your mind can appear to become suddenly blank when feeling anxious. But the information is there, it is only being temporarily blocked by nervousness. Practicing positive, calm language towards yourself before and during your exam, it can help to alleviate this blockage and bring what is there to the forefront of your memory. Sometimes when you feel as though you cannot remember something being asked on paper you know that you had studied, taking a few moments to step back and encourage yourself will soften that mental wall. 


Remember to breathe. Not only does deep breathing relax the body and help you focus, but it also enhances emotional judgments and memory recall. By making a habit of practicing intentional breathing not only during the exam but while studying and throughout the day, you are strengthening your cognitive function at a much deeper level. 

There are many things we can do to combat the stresses that are so commonly felt when preparing for and taking a test, but we understand these things can be difficult to make habits of on your own. 

Sitting down regularly with a tutor one-on-one who has taken the time to understand your unique challenges, habits and learning style can help tremendously to further support you in navigating your own test anxiety. Not only will they be able to help you utilize the tactics above, but they will also bring in other strategies unique to your own situation and personality, which can truly be the string that ties it all together. 


“You may encounter many defeats, but you must not be defeated. It may be necessary to encounter the defeats, so you can know who you are, what you can rise from, and how you can still come out of it.” 


-Maya Angelou

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