Taking Tests

One of the most stressful parts of higher education, or education of any kind, is the tests. Test anxiety is a real thing and many find themselves tensing up with the approach of a quiz, mid-term, or final; sometimes to the point of being nauseous. Below are some tips that work in easing your anxiety beyond the obvious preparation of studying for the test. I say obvious because there are still some who think they can get a college degree without studying, a sure way to failure.

Here are some lesser-known but proven practices that can help you get past the anxiety and give you a better outcome:

  1. Breathe. Yes, that’s right, breathe.  Studies show that if you will take several breaths, inhaling through your mouth and exhaling through your nose over the count of 5 it has the effect of relaxing you and giving you better control.  It has a side benefit of oxygenating your brain, always a good thing going into a test.  So, next time you taking a test, before you start, shut your eyes, breathe in quickly through your mouth and exhale slowly through your nose over 5 seconds. Do this 3 – 4 times.  You should feel more balanced and focused.
  2. This one seems completely disconnected but studies have shown it is effective for helping you face any challenge or test and achieve a better outcome. Just before the test close your eyes and think about what you are good at. It can be anything and doesn’t need to be related to the course – it just needs to be something that you know about yourself that you are good at, and proud of. Once you have that thought, on a scrap of paper write a sentence or two describing that and why you are proud of it.  That’s all.  You can keep the paper or throw it away – the paper isn’t the secret, it is that you have positioned your brain to remember you are a capable person.
  3. This may sound a little ridiculous, but, again, studies have shown that it works: your posture going into the test communicates to your brain whether you feel you are going to succeed or fail, which contributes to how you perform. You can trick your brain to perform better by simply sitting with a posture that says you are confident, whether you feel like it or not.  This shouldn’t work, but it does make a difference!  “Fake it until you make it” is the old adage and it certainly works here. So, sit up straight, lean forward a bit and let anyone who is looking at you think you are confident, and your brain will believe it, too.

Of course, just to reiterate what I mentioned at the first, all this assumes you have actually studied for the test, which means taking good notes throughout the class sessions.

I encourage you to give these tips a trick.

Dr. Upchurch