Test-Taking Without Fear

  1. A certain amount of fear or anxiety before or during a test is normal, and it can even help you focus your resources on solving the immediate problem. But, irrational fear, or excessive anxiety about a test situation is detrimental to concentration and performance.
  2. The good news is that there are ways to eliminate the crippling anxiety and fear that plague some students before and during exams. Before an exam, one should: Practice good study habits, prepare well, be organized, and keep a file for papers.
  3. Remember: Test preparation begins the first day of class. Keep up with reading assignments, underline important facts, and make written notes of points emphasized by your instructor. Don’t wait until the last minute to prepare for a test. Frantic, last-minute cramming usually results in confusion and increased anxiety.
  4. From your instructor, find out the type of test being given. Does it consist of essays, fill-in-the-blanks, multiple choice, or a combination? Be sure to find out about the length of the exam and the topics covered, and write down the date, time, and place of the exam. Time and effort spent worrying about when and where the exam will be held are wasted and only increase your anxiety.
  5. Get a good night’s sleep before the exam. Fatigue reduces your ability to perform and increases your anxiety. This is another reason that late-night cramming is a bad idea.
  6. If other classes have taken the test before you, don’t be overly concerned by rumors about the difficulty of the test. Tests are always hard for those who are not prepared.
  7. Have all the necessary paper, pencils, calculators, and other aids permitted by your instructor ready beforehand. Don’t be forced to scramble around for supplies just before the exam. Furthermore, the habit of being on time or early will allow you a moment to relax before the test starts.
  8. Thinking about a pleasant experience for a moment or two can put you in a good frame of mind.
  9. Listen carefully to pre-examination instructions. If you have any questions, ask them now. Don’t be afraid to ask for a clarification of instructions. When you receive your exam, take a moment to read carefully any instructions on the test itself. This will be time well spent. You don’t want to give incorrect answers because you misunderstand the instructions.
  10. In most tests, there will be questions you can’t answer. Don’t worry about these. Skip them and move on to questions you can answer. After answering the easy questions, go back and work on the harder ones. Work as fast and accurately as possible. Budget your time carefully, but remember that excessive worry over a time limit will reduce your performance.
  11. Daydream: Substitute worry thoughts with pleasant ones (being with someone special or being out in the sunshine, etc.) most of us live up to our own expectations; if we spend a lot of time thinking how poorly we’ll do, it will increase our chances for failure.