Test Anxiety/Study Skills

Tips for Managing Test Anxiety

Develop a study plan which allows plenty of time to review all materials.

Organize material so that the most important material will be given the greatest amount of time. If you have any questions, check with either the instructor. Their job is to help you learn.

Keep a steady rather than a crash pace. Rushing, either while studying or while taking a test, will work against you.

Study with another person or with a small group but rule out doing so with people who raise your anxiety level and/or aren't serious about working.

Take a 10-minute break approximately once an hour. Move away from the physical location where you are studying.

Adopt a "sportsman's attitude" - "win if you can, lose if you must, but do the best you can."

Plan a reward for yourself after the test no matter how well you feel you did.

Eat right. Get enough sleep. Build in time for relaxation.

The Day Before The Test
Review major concepts. Attempting to crash learn new material may interfere with your recall of material you have already learned.

If you feel tense or anxious, take some time for physical exercise. Swimming or jogging may be the most useful way to "burn off" some excess energy.

If you completed your study plan, go to a movie or watch some "light" television. This form of mental relaxation will not interfere with your performance.

Get a good night's sleep. The better rested you are, the more likely you will be to perform at your maximum.

Again, remind yourself of a "sportsman's attitude" - "win if you can, lose if you must, but do the best you can."

Avoid any friends who you know from the past to be "anxiety generators."

The Day Of The Test
Engage in relaxed "non-thinking" activity the hour before the exam.

Get to the test on time.

When the exam is distributed, take time to read the directions twice.

Practice mental relaxation exercises.  Remind yourself:
I can feel anxious and think at the same time
This is only anxiety- I’ve been through this before
All I can do is my best
I can do well on this test even though I feel afraid.

Be aware of your breathing patterns.  Slow, deep breaths will reduce anxiety.

Hints For Particular Types Of Test Questions
On multiple choice items, read all options first. Eliminate the obviously wrong alternatives first. Choose the "better" or "best" of the remaining alternatives.

On short answer and essay tests, do exactly what is asked. "overkill" is usually a waste of time and annoying to the person who grades the paper.

On long essay questions, begin with an outline of your answer. Make sure all the important points in your outline are included in your response.

On "True-False" items, check for tricky words such as "only," "always," "most," etc.

After The Test
Don't hash over what you might have done or mistakes you might have made.

Follow through on the reward you have promised yourself.

Regardless of what grade you received, review the test carefully.

If you don't understand your grade or the grader's comments, make an appointment to discuss them.

Evaluate your study program. Consider ways you might want to alter it for the future.

Contact the Counseling Center for more in depth tips to “show what you know” during exams.  (317)788-5015.