Categories: College Life

10 Testing Tips For The Anxious Test-Taker

So, you have signed up for some difficult class that require you to take a lot of important tests. When going into a testing situation, it’s important to have a few testing tips on your mind to ease the anxiety that is usually paired with high-pressure tests. By the end of this testing tips list, we hope that you know that life will ALWAYS continue to go on after a test. Use these testing tips to do that best that you can on your tests! Good luck!

1) Pre-Class Mentality

Before you even begin your class, it is important to have a positive mentality when entering a class. Ask yourself why you are taking the class (and make sure your answer is deeper than “because it will get me a job, degree, etc.). Are you taking the class because you would like to know the information? To become a better person? To challenge yourself? To get out of your comfort-zone? All it takes is a shift in mentality at the beginning of the class to change the stakes. So, when it comes to testing time, your stakes are not about whether you achieve a future goal, but it is more about developing as a individual in the moment. Enter the class knowing that you are going to do your very best… and your very best is good enough. 

2) Viewpoint

Speaking of self-worth, let’s address this common link with test results and self-worth. Your self worth has NOTHING to do with your test results. This testing tip is more like a life tip, and it is very important when it comes to testing anxiety. Instead of viewing your testing results as a score of how smart you are, see it as a tool of what your professor or program would like you to spend more time on. For example, if you are passionate and interested in Renaissance history, but don’t perform well on testing, that does not mean that you are not gifted in that subject. Instead, the poor test result means that your knowledge does not perfectly align with what your professor was looking for. In other words, that test result is a way to evaluate how you can readjust how you study to better fit that program.

3) Best You

All you can give your class and your tests is your best. This means working hard to best prepare yourself for the test, but it also means taking care of yourself and your body. This mind-set going into your test is what eases anxiety when you are taking the actually test. When you sit to take your test, remind yourself that you did everything that you possibly could to prepare yourself. Even if you feel like you don’t know some answers, it is calming to think that you have done all that you could to get to this point.  

4) Study Well… Not Hard

A bulk of preparation for your test comes from your studying. There is a difference to studying hard and to studying well. The difference is that studying well means that you study all of the material, while still taking care of your body. All-nighters prevent your body from letting the information that you just learned actually sink in. Rest, sleep, eat healthy. Take care of your body physically and mentally in order to study well. If you have a lot to study, but feel overwhelmed, take a moment to take care of yourself before diving into the studying. Study, take breaks, teach others what you’ve learned, engage in the material, studying while on a walk… there are ways to soak in information in healthy spurts over time. Study a little every day rather than right before a test. Let it soak in. 

5) Test Environment

Give yourself an environment that you feel as though you would do well in. If you work well with others around you, make sure that you are taking the test amongst classmates. If you focus well alone, ask a professor if you have the option to take the test in a testing center or in their office. If you are testing remotely, chose an environment that you work well in. If you don’t know what environment you work well in, take practice tests in different spaces until you find a space that works best! Professors are a wonderful resource to use! If you are in an environment that you can’t change, practice testing in that environment before the real test. That way you have done it before and know what to expect.  

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6) Have A Plan

Have you ever sat to take a test and freeze because you’re so overwhelmed that you don’t know where to start? Us too. You are fine. To prevent this, ALWAYS ask the professor or a student who had taken the course the format of the test. Write down the format and the amount of time that you have on each part of the test. Create a paced plan on how you are going to tackle the test before it is placed in front of you. This might take some extra hunting, but it is sooooo worth it in the end. Knowing what to expect eases testing anxiety, and it tells your brain that you know exactly what it needs to do. A testing tip for this is: if you notice that you are stuck on a question and your planned time is up, skip it. It’s best to get other answers right then to waste your time on one question. Once you’ve finished the test, go back to that question and you might know the answer. 

7) Talk To Your Professors And Peers

No shame in test anxiety! Let your resources know what you are going through. Chances are, they can encourage you and help prepare you for your test. Also, let it be known that telling your professors about your testing anxiety is not a form of making an excuse for doing poorly. It’s actually a way for your professors to understand your struggles and for them to get to know who you are as a learner. When telling them, don’t come in expecting the professor to give you accommodations. Instead, expect for them to acknowledge your hard work. Professors want to know you as a student to know how to properly teach and test you.

8) Know Yourself

It’s so important to spend a moment with yourself to reflect on how you are as a student and test-taker. What makes me feel anxious about tests? What doesn’t make me feel anxious? What does the anxiety make me feel like? What’s my ideal testing environment? How can I do better? Knowing how you are as a learner and a student will know what you need to be the best student that you can.   

9) Grades

The term “bad grade” often gets muddled with the term “Not the grade I hoped for”. It is great to set grade goals. But, know that only taking a class with grade-goals is not the move. Like #1 on the list explains, have personal growth goals with each class. By having this, if you don’t get the grade that your goal had planned, you still are reaching other goals in the class. “Bad grades” come from a grade that came from you not being the best prepared that you could have been in a healthy way. Remember, grades don’t define you. Grades are for learning. If you don’t make a grade to get to a future goal, then you probably were not meant to be at the future goal (as hard as that sounds) in a healthy way.    

10) Be Kind To Yourself

Believe in yourself and give yourself grace. Spend these classes figuring out who you are as a person and student. Let yourself make a mistake. Walk in to the test confidently. Take care of your body and mind. The mindset of getting excited to take a test is very plausible. It is a great feeling to know that you are more than a test and to sit in front of a test knowing that it was you best work that came from the best version of you. 

These testing tips will help you get into the right *healthy* mindset before you take your tests. Which testing tip helps with your testing anxiety? Let us know in the comments!

Featured image source:
Julia Bergquist

Julia grew up in a town just outside of Chicago. She currently lives in Memphis, Tennessee where she is a junior Creative Writing and Literature major at Rhodes College. Julia prefers to spend her days outside writing stories for others to find joy in. Other than story-telling, you will find Julia running on her college track and field team and traveling the world.

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