Test Taking and Anxiety Tips

Test Preparation

Test Taking Tips

Test Anxiety

Test Taking Tips

Test Preparation

Getting Started…

Before you start on any project, including preparation for an exam, it is important
to be mentally and physically prepared. As early as a week before the exam, be sure to

* Get enough sleep. Remember that old saying about eight to ten hours of sleep a night? Being well rested is perhaps the most important, and unfortunately most overlooked, aspect of health when trying to stay focused and retain information.

* Eat healthy. Most of the time in our busy schedules, we forget to take time out for our most obvious needs. If you are not eating well, you cannot possibly expect yourself to perform well in school, or anything else. Make sure you are eating right.

* Get enough exercise. In a campus that averages a ten minute walk from class to class, this seems relatively easy. Still, make sure you are active throughout the day. This doesn’t mean joining a gym or starting a rigorous program, but make sure you keep your energy levels high during the day. This, by the way, depends on a well balanced diet, and can prevent insomnia!

These are really lifelong habits that you should employ to help you throughout the semester. Still, they are especially important before a stressful activity, like a major exam. However, it is equally important to be mentally prepared for this great task ahead.

Before you even begin to study or take an exam, consider these questions:

  • Is pressure from home interfering with my work?
  • Do I feel consumed with a problem with a friend or significant other?
  • Are my roommate and I not getting along?
  • Am I feeling overly stressed because of the student organizations I belong to?
  • Is this exam really worth stressing about? (see TEST ANXIETY)
  • Is a recent event in my life causing my emotions to conflict with my schoolwork?
  • Is my living and working conditions causing me to waste time that could be spent better?

If any of these conditions apply, that does not mean you are unfit for studying, but if outside influences are interfering, then take the time to resolve these issues. If you are studying for an exam, take time to first try to work through these problems so they are no longer keeping you from your task. If you are taking a test, clear your mind of all stress. Tell yourself that however pressing these matters seem, they can wait two hours while you take this test.

Keep these ideas in mind as you work through the task. Keep a positive attitude, and you WILL succeed:

  • I AM ready for this exam!
  • I AM capable of doing my best, and that is what is important.
  • I WILL succeed.
  • This exam may seem difficult now, but I WILL be ready when I take it.
  • I DESERVE to do the very best I can.

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Getting Organized…

Now you find yourself surroundedby information. You have at least one textbook, supplemental readings,lecture notes, and possibly even a study guide! You could work throughthe mess, but what a waste of time. Organizing the information may seemto take a little time and seem tedious, but you will end up saving time and stress in the end. Trust me on this one.

Fact Sheets:

One of the most basic ways of organizing your thoughts is by getting it all on paper. This is similar to an outline for a chapter in a textbook, or notes taken during a lecture. In fact, this is the next step in that process. Once you have all your lecture and textual notes, you may wish to further consolidate your notes to make the information more manageable. Writing the information in the form of phrases or sentences on a sheet of paper does this.

Another form of this is a word list. Oftentimes a way to test your knowledge about a particular topic is to put a key word in front of you, and the page numbers or dates of lecture that the word refers to. For example the word may be:

Psychoanalysis (pp 478-479)
This tells you that if you cannot come up with enough information regarding that subject, refer to those pages of the text.

Retroactive viruses (09/20)
If you are not sure what “retroactive viruses” mean or you cannot give examples of such viruses, the parenthetical note refers you to a certain lecture during which the professor discussed retroactive viruses.

Fact sheets and word lists work well when you wish to summarize information for a test. They offer quick references, and it is easy to track your progress. Unfortunately, they can often be cumbersome and easy to lose.

Note cards:

The easiest way to set up information in a uniform manner is to put individual statements on note cards. They are relatively inexpensive, and you can take them anywhere. By putting one part of the concept on either side of the note card, you can create a study guide that facilitates self-testing also.

Here are a few examples:

Vocabulary (this is an easy one and you can use it to memorize any terms, meanings, or translations)

Front side
To Study (Spanish)
Back Side

Concepts (this can work if the idea takes more than a phrase to explain)

Front side
Latchkey Adolescents
Back Side

Mathematical formulas and equations (works similarly to a definition)

Front side
A^2 + B^2 = C^2
Back Side
Theorem Description


Be creative, remember this is YOUR system. Make sure though that nothing on one side gives away the other side. That way, you can reverse some of the cards and work both ways.

Once you have this system, you can flip through cards while going to class, talking on the phone, or doing most anything. Feel free to mark your progress by highlighting harder ones or discarding easy ones, although you want to be careful that the markings do not give away what is on the card!

Getting Refreshed…
Despite the benefits of study guides, nothing beats hitting the books when you just want to become reacquainted with the main concepts and be sure you haven’t forgotten anything. Rereading through the material can often bring to the surface ideas you thought you had forgotten. Unfortunately, no one has time to reread everything, so here are a few ways to efficiently work through the textbook:

  • Focus on all headings and subheadings. They can help you organize your thoughts.
  • Be sure you know all bold faced or italicized words. Often, these terms are vital doorways to the information.
  • Review all summary sections and review questions. This can help to be sure you have successfully hit on all the points the textbook editors feel important.
  • Review highlighted material. You obviously marked the book for a reason, try to figure out why. Be wary of using highlighted lines from other semesters though, you don’t know for sure that the previous owner of the book got an “A” in the course.
  • Check all marginal notes. They may help you relate the text to your notes. It is always good to review your thoughts to recapture the moment.
  • Review aloud the key concepts. Being your own lecturer can prove to your benefit, and you get to hear yourself talk!

There are three styles of reading you can use when studying. At this stage in the game, it is important to remember that you have already drawn out the important facts on note cards. Therefore, pick a style that won’t be time consuming and won’t make you feel overwhelmed.

Comprehensive reading: This style is what you used when developing note cards, and is obviously very tedious at this point. If you feel like you
are reading the same thing over, that’s probably because you are. Avoid this style at this point, because you will just grind yourself and lower your enthusiasm.

This is the opposite extreme, and is not ideal either. Of course it is better than nothing, and if you are short on time, do at least try to get the main ideas and points through a quick read through. Obviously, if this is all you do, that is not conducive to a passed test.

Newspaper reading: Also referred to as magazine style, this method is ideal for the final read through. Because you have already taken great lengths to search out the important points and catalog the facts, you should feel comfortable just reading through the pages as if you would without a pending exam. This will help to make you feel comfortable with the text you have presumably mastered, as well as notice anything foreign to you. Of course if you do not have a general understanding of the material, or a portion of the material, this step serves as a safety net.

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Getting Psyched…
After every study session, tell yourself you are going to pass this exam. Likewise, offer yourself rewards for studying. Give yourself something to look forward to after studying and after the exam, so you can feel as if you have accomplished something. Often the time you spend doing this is just as important as the studying itself. Here are a few tips to help keep your energy level high during test preparation:

  • Schedule your study sessions before pleasant times of the day, like mealtimes or a favorite activity or television program.
  • Have a set time schedule for studying so that you can tell yourself, “just one more hour,” and there seems to be an end to the studying sessions.
  • Study during times of high energy. If you are a morning person, study early. If you are an evening person, study in the evening. This works well, as you can reward yourself with going out afterwards.
  • When studying, have a snack on hand. Keeping your blood sugar high can help you stay alert and concentrate.
  • Plan something special after your exam. Whether you pass or fail, the ordeal of the preparation and experience of the exam is worth a break. Make it a special occasion with friends. Make sure you give yourself a higher reward for actually finishing the exam than you did for studying.
  • Don’t worry about the outcome of the exam after you take it, there’s nothing you can do about it now. If you did the best you could, you have nothing to worry about!
Test Taking

General Tips

Before you Begin:

  1. Preview the test before you answer anything. This gets you thinking about the material. Make sure to note the point value of each question. This will give you some ideas on budgeting your time.
  2. Quickly calculate how much time you should allow for each section according to the point value. (You don’t want to spend 30 minutes on an essay question that counts only 5 points.)
  3. Do a mind dump. Using what you saw in the preview, make notes of anything you think you might forget. Write down things that you used in learning the material that might help you remember. Outline your answers to discussion questions.

Taking a Test:

  1. Read the directions. (Can more than one answer be correct? Are you penalized for guessing? etc.) Never assume that you know what the directions say.
  2. Answer the easy questions first. This will give you the confidence and momentum to get through the rest of the test. You are sure these answers are correct. Try not to spend too much time on one question.
  3. Go back to the difficult questions. While looking over the test and doing the easy questions, your subconscious mind will have been working on the answers to the hardest ones. Also, later items on the test might give you useful or needed information for earlier items.
  4. Answer all questions (unless you are penalized for wrong answers).
  5. Ask the instructor to explain any items that are not clear. Do not ask for the answer, but phrase your question in a way that shows the instructor that you have the information but are not sure what the question is asking for.
  6. Try to answer the questions from the instructor’s point of view. Try to remember what the instructor emphasized and felt was important.
  7. Use the margin to help you figure out if the question does not seem clear or if the answer seems ambiguous.
  8. Circle key words in difficult questions. This will force you to focus on the central point.
  9. Express difficult questions in your own words. Rephrasing can make it clear to you, but be sure you don’t change the meaning of the question.
  10. Use all of the time allotted for the test. If you have extra time, cover up your answers and actually rework the question.

Essay Exams

Guidelines for Taking an Essay Exam

  • Make sure you are ready for the test both mentally and physically.
  • Listen carefully to the final instructions of the teacher. (How much time do you have to complete the test? Do all the questions count equally? Are there any corrections, changes, or additions to the test?)
  • Begin the test immediately and watch the time carefully. Don’t spend too much time answering one question that you run out of time before answering the others.
  • Read all the essay questions carefully, paying special attention to the key words.
  • Ask the teacher to clarify any question you may not understand.
  • Rephrase the question into the central idea for your essay answer.
  • Think before you write. Jot down all the important information and work it into a brief outline. Do this on the back of the test sheet or on a piece of scrap paper.
  • Use a logical pattern of organization and a strong topic sentence for each paragraph.
  • Write concisely without using abbreviations or nonstandard language.
  • Emphasize those areas of the subject you are most sure of.
  • Keep your test paper neat with reasonable margins. Neatness is always important; readability is a must, especially on an exam.
  • Revise and proofread as carefully and completely as time will permit.

Planning and Writing the Essay Test Question

It is important to understand what the teacher is asking for in an essay question. Too
many students make the error of thinking the best way to answer an essay question is to write down everything and anything about the topic as fast as they can. No time is taken to think about the essay test question or to organize an appropriate answer.

The first step in correctly handling an essay test question is to read the question
several times until you are sure you know what the teacher is asking.
As you read, you must pay special attention to the key words found in
every essay question. Your ability to understand and respond to these
key words is a basic skill necessary to handling the essay question.
Below are some steps for writing a good essay.

the question several times or until you clearly understand what is being asked for. (Pay specific attention to the “key word” being used in the question.)

the question into a statement, which can serve as the thesis statement for your essay answer or the topic sentence for a one-paragraph answer.
Note: It often works well to keep the key words in your thesis statement.

the main points you plan to cover in your answer. Time will probably not allow you to include all supporting details in your outline. (Using a topic outline rather than a sentence outline will also save time.)

your essay. Your opening sentence will be your thesis statement (the reworded question). Follow this with any background information, which is necessary for a complete understanding of your answer.

Important Points to Remember


  • A few minutes of careful planning are crucial to a good essay answer.
  • Budget your time for planning, writing, and editing.
  • Read the question carefully; be sure you understand what the question is
    asking you to do, and what all parts of the answer should be.
  • Make notes, then organize them and check to see that your outline contains everything
    it should.


  • The most important thing in writing the essay is to stay on track and still
    explain your points adequately. Keep in mind any special instructions your instructor gave.
  • Keep introductions and conclusions short.
  • Say what your are going to say in the introduction, then say it in the body, restate
  • what you have just said in your conclusion.
  • Stick to your outline.
  • Note any new ideas in the margin; don’t just stick them in when you think of them.
  • Try not to start over if you get off track; just get back to your outline.
  • Don’t save important points for conclusion.
  • If you can save time, reading your essay over can help greatly.
  • Ask yourself:
    1. Do I need to reread the question?
    2. Does it answer the question?
    3. Are any points left out?
    4. Are there words or phrases that you skipped writing fast?
    5. Did you spell important words (relevant to the subject) correctly?

Math & Science (Problem-Based)

Special Techniques for Math and Science Tests

  1. Translate problems in English. Putting problems into words aids your understanding.
    When you study equations and formulas, put those into words too.
    The words help you see a variety of applications for each formula.
  2. Perform opposite operations. If a problem involves multiplication, check your work by dividing; add, subtract; factor, multiply; square root, square; differentiate, integrate.
  3. Use time drills. Practice working problems fast. Time yourself. Exchange problems with a friend and time each other. You can also do this in a study group.
  4. Analyze before you compute. Set up the problem before you begin to solve it. When a problem is worth a lot of points, read it twice, slowly. Analyze it carefully. When you take time to analyze a problem you can often see ways to take computational shortcuts.
  5. Make a picture. Draw a clear picture or a diagram if you are stuck. Sometimes a visual representation will clear a blocked mind.
  6. Estimate first. Estimation is a good way to double-check your work. Doing this first can help you notice if your computations go awry, and then you can correct the error quickly.
  7. Check your work systematically. When you check your work, ask yourself:
    Did I read the problem correctly? Did I use the correct formula or equation? Is my arithmetic correct? Is my answer in the proper form? Avoid the temptation to change an answer in the last few minutes-unless you’re sure the answer is wrong. In the last-minute rush to finish the test, it’s easier to choose the wrong answer.
  8. Review formulas. Right before the test, review any formulas you’ll need to use. Then write them on the margin of the test or on the back of the test paper.

Taking Math and Science Exams

  1. Do the easy ones first.
  2. Read the problem.
    • Determine exactly what you are required to find.
    • What does the answer look like? – is it a speed? A temperature? An
  3. Estimate the answer before you start to work on the problem.
    • It helps to have a rough idea of the size of the answer.
  4. Include the units with all answers and round them to the proper place.
  5. Try to see the exam problem as another example of a problem you have already solved or studied.
    • Your instructor will have worked problems in class and you may recall worked examples in your text.
  6. In preparing for problem exams it is important that you work many problems.
    • For most students the course grade or exam grade is directly proportional to the number of problems they do.
    • Don’t spend all your time on a few very difficult problems. Rather, do many of the easier ones until you are certain of your ability.
  7. If the exam will require you to perform mathematical proofs or derivations, be certain that you know which proofs may be required.
    • Drill yourself on these before the test.
    • Repeat each proof step-by-step until you remember each step and can quickly outline the proof.
  8. See your instructor for pre-exam help when you need it, but come prepared with a list of specific questions.
    • Show him/her your attempts at solving the problem and he/she will be more willing to help.
  9. Go over every test after you take it.
    • Learn how to do the problems you missed.
    • Science and math build an inverted pyramid of ideas. Anything you do not understand now will return to haunt you later in the course.

Taking Math Exams

  1. Be prepared at exam and on time.
  2. Write down any formulas you’ll need to remember.
  3. Read instructions carefully.
  4. Skim test and do those questions you know immediately.
  5. Pace yourself so you have time to consider all questions.
  6. Do problems you can do but take more time.
  7. Go back and work on hard problems.
    • Be systematic
    • Find relevant information
    • Break into smaller parts
    • Don’t panic
    • Don’t write a novel
  8. If you have no idea where to start.
    • Re-read question
    • Check to see if similar to any other problems
    • Re-read formulas
    • List what is known, what you need to find, and what is needed to find the answer.
  9. Allow time to check problems
  10. Look out for stupid errors.

After Receiving the Test:

  • Immediately look up questions that caused problems.
  • Go over test and correct missed problems.
  • Check with instructor if you can not figure out why the problem was wrong.

Taking Science Exams

  • Read all test directions carefully and survey the entire test before answering any questions.
  • Budget your time so you will be able to complete the entire test.
  • Read the questions carefully and answer those you’re sure of first. If there’s no penalty for wrong answers, guess.
  • Try to save time to review your answers before submitting your test.

True/False Exams

  1. The basic idea behind a true-false question is simple: It consists of a single statement; your job is to decide whether it’s true. What makes the choice more difficult is that to be true, a statement must be 100 percent true!
  2. Watch for those little words that can turn an otherwise true statement into one that is false, or vice versa. Researchers have found that statements containing certain words, such as the following, are generally false:

All, Only, Always, Because

Statements containing certain other words, such as the following, are generally true:

None, Generally, Usually

  1. If you don’t know an answer, always guess-unless the scoring formula is “rights minus wrongs.” If that’s the case, never guess.
  2. In true-false tests, your first hunch is usually correct. Don’t change an answer unless you are very sure of the change.
  3. If any part of the statement is false, the whole statement is false.

Matching Exams

  • You must connect items on one list with items on another generally by placing a number or letter identifying words on one list beside those on another.
  • The best way to approach matching questions of this kind is to choose one of the columns and match as many items as you can with those in the other column. You can start with either column, but you can have more success if you start with the column providing the most information.
  • Work with only one column at a time. Match each item in that column against all items in the second column until you find a proper match, marking through matches about which you are certain, so that it will be easier to match out the rest about which you are unsure. Cross out the words you have used as you go along to avoid confusion.

Multiple Choice

  • Anticipate the answer before you look at the choices. Physically cover the answers with your scantron sheet to see if your can answer the question first.
  • Read over all of your options.
  • Eliminate highly implausible answers.
  • Some examiners give away answers in their tests. By answering one question, you may be able to realize the answer to another question.
  • If you must guess, keep in mind the following tips for multiple choice tests:
    • Sometimes lengthy or highly specific answers will be the correct answer.
    • Be aware of words like “always,” “never,” “only,” “must,” and “completely.” These are usually the wrong answers since there are many exceptions to rules. These are extreme words that are more than likely to be the wrong choice.
  • Answer all questions in order without skipping or jumping around. Identify doubtful answers by marking in the margin and recheck these as time permits after all questions have been answered.
  • Do not linger too long on any one question. Mark your best guess and move on, returning later if you have sufficient time.
  • Reread all questions containing negative wording such as “not” or “least.” Be especially alert for the use of double or even triple negatives within a sentence, as these must be read very carefully to assure full understanding.
  • Check for qualifying words such as “all-most-some-none,” “always-usually-seldom-never,” “best-worst,” or “smallest-largest.” When you see one of these qualifiers, test for truth by substituting the other members of the series. IF your substitution makes a better statement, the question is false; if your substitution does not make a better statement, the question is true.
  • Watch for modifying or limiting phrases inserted into the true/false questions. Instructors often use inserted names, dates, places, or other details to make a statement inaccurate.
  • Be alert for multiple ideas or concepts within the same true/false statements. All parts of the statement must be true or the entire statement is false.
  • Be alert for grammatical inconsistencies between the question stem and the answer choices on multiple-choice questions. A choice is almost always wrong if it and the stem do not make a grammatically correct sentence.
  • Be cautious about changing your answer to a true/false or multiple-choice question without a good reason. Your first “guess” is more likely to be correct than are subsequent “guesses,” so be sure to have a sound reason for changing your answer.
  • Apply the same approach to answering both true/false and multiple-choice questions. The same techniques will work equally well for both, since multiple-choice questions are basically true/false questions arranged in groups.

Test Anxiety

Symptoms of Test Anxiety

It is normal to feel nervous about an exam. In fact, it is beneficial to be moderately stressed right before the exam. A little tension can give you just the right amount of adrenaline you need to do your best. It can heighten your awareness and sharpen your reflexes, allowing you to perform more quickly. It can even help you recall information you may not have otherwise remembered.

However, if your level of stress rises too high, it can result in insomnia, loss of appetite, and sometimes even hair loss! This can obviously affect your performance on the exam. So how do you know if you suffer from test anxiety? Here is a checklist to see if you may be a little too frazzled…

Test anxiety quiz (don’t stress, it’s a take home!)


  • I have trouble sleeping at night and spend those last few minutes before sleep worrying about upcoming exams or projects.
  • The day of an exam, I experience drastic appetite changes and either overeat, or skip breakfast and lunch.
  • While studying for or taking an exam, I often feel a sense of hopelessness or dread.
  • While studying or taking an exam, I have problems concentrating and I sometimes feel bored or tired.
  • I often yawn during an exam or while studying.
  • During an exam, I often feel confused or panic.
  • During an exam, I experience sweaty palms, mental blocks.
  • While taking an exam, I sometimes experience headaches, vomiting, or fainting.
  • After the exam, I pretend the exam meant nothing to me, and discard the result as meaningless.
  • When I am finished with an exam, I sometimes feel guilt and blame myself for not studying enough.
  • I sometimes get angry or depressed after an exam.
  • As a general rule, I view test taking as a stressful situation and dread it.

If any of these statements were true for you, you may suffer from test anxiety. The first thing to do is realize that it is not a lost cause, and you can manage the anxiety to work for you, instead of against you.

Is Anxiety Bad?

NO! In fact it is general stress that helps motivate us to succeed. Take for example that football game you saw last weekend. If the players did not feel somewhat anxious about the outcome of the game, they may not have worked to their full potential. Stress only becomes our enemy when it becomes an end in itself. When the focus of our energy turns to anxiety rather than the task at hand, it becomes detrimental to your efforts.

Dealing with Thoughts

Yell STOP!

If you feel yourself beginning to brew a storm of anxiety, stop what you’re doing and mentally draw a blank. Wait for the clouds to clear before continuing. If you are in an environment that permits it, actually tell yourself to STOP! This may embarrass you a little, but at least it will get your mind off the stress. It may take a while for your mind to clear, but wait for it. The time spent doing this will in the end be less than the time lost due to poor performance because of stress.


Work! Work! Work! All through school, you are told this. In class, your teacher may have scolded you for daydreaming. Now, forget all that. Allow yourself the benefit of daydreaming. If you feel overwhelmed by the material, let your mind wander. Think of being with a friend or at a place of comfort and let your body relax. Feel the physical tension in your body release, and then return to the grindstone.

Visualize Success

Anyone who has been involved with some form of athletics knows the value of visualization. Basketball players who visualize their shots have a higher scoring ratio. The same applies for academics. Most people contemplate what failure will feel like. Doing this only sets you up for the fall. Instead, spend time visualizing success. Rehearse what it will feel like to get that A. Be specific with your goals, and physically produce them for yourself. If your goal is to ace an upcoming exam, put a copy of a previous exam on the bulletin board in your dorm or apartment and write a big ‘A’ on it. If your goal is a specific GPA for the semester, write that figure on the board and chart your progress. Thinking positively results in a higher level of energy and stress levels drop.


Focus on the task at hand. Alright, I know I just said take time to daydream, and you should. But afterwards, when you are working, do not allow outside influences to pervade your thoughts. This allows for efficient use of time. If you have multiple projects, as most of us do, work on one at a time. If you feel yourself stressing about another course, write a note and assure yourself you’ll get to it. Then, forget about it until you are finished with what you are doing.

During an exam, if you feel yourself becoming overwhelmed, take a few moments to focus on something in the room. Consider the texture of the desk or your eraser, listen to the sounds of the lights in the room, or focus on something within the room. This can help you clear your mind of outside thoughts before continuing the exam.

Praise yourself

Talk to yourself using positive language. Treat yourself as you would a friend. By the way, this is good advice throughout life, not just during an exam. Rather than saying, ‘Way to go dummy, you don’t even know the answer to the first question!’ try, ‘Get back to that question, maybe it will come to you as you work through the rest of the exam.’ Encourage yourself and promise yourself a treat after you finish the exam regardless of your feelings toward your performance. This helps you to focus on something other than the importance of this particular exam. Keep in mind that no one exam is going to completely devastate your career as a student.

Dealing with Physical Tension

Here are a few exercises you can try to help relieve the tension in your body. It can help you relax and boost your energy level.

Focal Breathing

Often, stress is a result of a lack of oxygen. This exercise focuses on breathing and optimizing oxygen intake on every breath. Start by exhaling all the air in your lungs. Exhale slowly for ten seconds. Then, keep exhaling until you feel your lungs are completely empty. Breathe in through the nose to a count of eight. Keep your shoulders down and focus on filling your rib cage. As you feel it expand, start to push down into your abdomen. You should feel your lower body expand and near the end, pressure in your lower back as your diaphragm lowers.

Exhale slowly, focusing your breathing by shaping your lips in an ooh position. Pretend there is a candle in front of your mouth that you are trying to blow out. Focusing on this type of breathing will help to focus your mind as well as work to re-oxygenate your blood and reenergize your body.

Body Check

Sit down someplace comfortable and close your eyes. Focus on the muscles in your feet and notice if there is any tension. Tell the muscles in your feet that they can relax.

Do the same with your ankles, then move up to your calves, thighs, and buttocks. Tell each group of muscles to relax. Work slowly being sure to scout out any tension that may be hiding in obscure places.

Do the same for your lower back, diaphragm, chest, upper back, neck, shoulders, jaw, face, upper arms, lower arms, fingers, and scalp. Pretend you are tracking an electrical current through your body that it starting at your toes and escaping from your fingertips and scalp. You may have to do this twice to be sure not to overlook any tension, but be thorough in your search.

Tense and Relax

When scanning your body, you will find tense muscles or groups of muscles. This method will help you to relax that area. Focus on that muscle and increase the tension. If your shoulders are tense, flex them and pull them back. Arch your back to make them even tenser and hold that position for a count of five.

Then, relax the muscle slowly and keep relaxing the muscle until all the tension is gone. In this way, you can consciously purge that area of all stress.

Exercise Aerobically

This is more of a lifestyle than a practical on-site method. Still, it can help to reduce general stress and even improve your health. Do some form of exercise that elevates your heart rate and keeps it beating at that rate for twenty to thirty minutes. It should be something you enjoy, and that you can do at least three times a week. Aerobic exercise includes cycling, basketball, running, swimming, and tennis just to name a few.

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Dos and Don’ts of Dealing with Test Anxiety

  • Don’t cram for an exam. The amount you learn won’t be worth the stress.
  • Don’t think of yourself or the test in a negative sense.
  • Don’t stay up late studying the night before. You need the sleep. Begin studying a week in advance if possible.
  • Don’t spend time with classmates who generate stress for you on test day.
  • Don’t take those last few moments before the test for last minute cramming. Try to relax and spend that time reading the newspaper or some other distraction.
  • Do remind yourself that the test is only a test.
  • Do focus on integrating details into main ideas.
  • Do reward yourself after the test with food or a movie or some other treat.
  • Do something relaxing the last hour before the test.
  • Do tell yourself that you will do your best on the test, and that will be enough!

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