Test Taking and Managing Anxiety
A certain level of anxiety is helpful as it inspires one to take action and study. However, too much anxiety can lead to avoidance behavior as one may procrastinate, or it may cause one too freeze during test time. This can lead to going “blank” during the test—all of a sudden your forget everything, perhaps you lose your ability to focus, your heart starts beating faster, and you become more panicked and flustered. You may find that you run out of time or are unable to complete problems you have already studied.
So, how can you cope with test anxiety?
1. Adequate preparation.
~~>Study a little bit every day. Sometimes getting started is the hardest part, so commit to 15 minutes a day. You may find that once you get started, you will go over the 15 minutes.
~~>Try to see the bigger picture. Often, titles and highlighted words can key you into the big picture. Make connections to previous readings or notes.
~~> Create 5-7 key words that represent the material you learned and be able to verbally elaborate on each word/concept.
2. Be kind to yourself.
~~> Practice deep breathing. Individuals tend to breathe shallowly or even hold their breath when feeling anxious. Sometimes they are not even aware of it. Shallow breathing limits your oxygen intake and adds more stress to your body, creating a vicious cycle. Breathing exercises can break this cycle. Set 15 minutes to practice breathing. You may be surprised how energizing or relaxing this could be. If you dismiss this suggestion, just notice and get curious about why.
~~> 1. Sit up straight and allow your feet to touch the ground.
2. Place one hand on your diaphragm and the other on your chest.
3. Take in a deep breathe in through your nose and exhale slowly though your mouth.
4. Inhale and exhale on a count of 5 and overtime try to work your way up to a count of 8.
5. Your hand should move out as your inhale and the hand on your chest should stay relatively still.
6. If you lose your concentration, just come back to your breath.
7. Do this for 15 minutes.
8. Notice your experience. Notice if this helps you feel more relaxed or nervous. If you become more anxious, notice where your mind went. Notice why an exercise that was meant to relax was anxiety provoking. Did you have judgements? Was it too boring? Waste of time? Just notice and keep practicing. Try this in the now or tomorrow morning!
~~> 1. Cover your right nostril with your thumb and inhale through the left.
2. With your index finger cover your left nostril and exhale through your right.
3. Then switch sides.
4.Practice this for at least 5 minutes. Try this now!
* Stop, breathe, smile, and go slowly!
Yasi Shamtoub, M.A.