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When a big test is coming up it is normal to feel nervous, especially if you know that the test is going to count for a huge percentage of your final grade. When we feel anxious, we may experience headaches, dizziness, sweating, shakiness, and trouble breathing. Along with these anxious and nervous feelings, we may have worrying thoughts going through our minds. You may think things like, “What if I do not get a good grade?” or “What if I do not pass the class?” When we are nervous, we will sometimes think of the worst possible outcome. These types of negative thoughts are called catastrophizing which means you are expecting a catastrophe or disaster to happen. The good news is that there is something that we can do to calm these feelings of nervousness.
Helpful Tips for Controlling Test Anxiety
1. Prepare ahead of time for the test. Don’t procrastinate studying. Ask lots of questions about what is going to be on the test and understand what is going to be the test format. If you can, take a practice test.
2. Use positive self-talk. When the negative thoughts come, combat those thoughts with positive thoughts such as, “I’ve got this” or “I am going to try my best.” Also, use your imagination to imagine yourself doing well on the test.
3. Relax your body before, during, and after the test. This will help to calm your mind and the physical feelings of anxiety. One way to relax is to take deep breaths. You can do relaxation exercises such as taking deep breaths the night before the test.
4. Pace yourself as you take the test. Focus on one question at a time. Read each question carefully and do not spend too much time on one question. Don’t pay attention to what others are doing.
5. Eat breakfast. Our brain needs fuel in order to perform its best. Eating will help with improving focus during the test and help in controlling feelings of nervousness.
6. Get plenty of rest the night before the test.