What to do if you get overly anxious before tests

It can be incredibly annoying if you know that you are intelligent and you have revised thoroughly, but when it comes to test time, you get so anxious that you can’t think straight and have to spend some time calming yourself down before you can start work. Thankfully, there are some ways that you can relieve anxiety before a test so that you can perform to your best ability. 

Don’t leave revision until the last minute

If you leave revision until the last couple of days before the test, the chances are that you will find yourself panicking because you don’t think you will know everything in time. Ensure that you don’t put yourself under this pressure by starting your revision in plenty of time. That way, even if you do get anxious before and during your exam, the chances are that your memory will kick into place and remember what you have learned, simply because you have had time to let it sink in. 

Ensure you sleep well

Sleep deprivation is another thing that can lead to anxiety before an exam, because you are so tired that your mind is much slower than usual. Don’t allow yourself to reach this point. Make a point of leading a healthy lifestyle in the weeks before your test and go to bed early. That way, if you do struggle to sleep the night before the exam, it will just be the one night and won’t do as much damage as two or three days of sleepless nights will do. 

Spend the few hours before the exam with someone else

Many people spend the few hours before the exam trying to cram a little bit more information in. There is no harm in looking over notes, but you really shouldn’t be leaving the actual learning until just beforehand. Instead, spend some time with a friend, ideally one who is about to do the same test. You can share information, talk about how you are feeling and plan how you are going to treat yourselves afterwards. Time will go much more quickly and you won’t have time to get anxious.

Practice relaxation techniques

If you find yourself becoming overly anxious and panicking that you aren’t going to be able to remember anything, try and stop yourself and find somewhere quiet. Lie down if you can; if not, sitting will do. Take some slow deep breaths with your eyes closed and try to imagine somewhere that you’d really like to be – perhaps lying on a beach or having a cool drink in a bar. Stretch your arms and back and roll your neck to release the tension there. 

Ensure you have everything you need

Double check that you have everything you need – this is a good thing to go through with friends. Always have more than one pen; you never know when yours might stop working, no matter how reliable it has been before. If you take pencils, then ensure you have a pencil sharpener and eraser. You may need a calculator for some exams – and of course, if it is an open book exam, then ensure that you have the books that you need and that they are bookmarked for easy referral. 

Think how good you will feel afterwards

When the panic is rising and relaxation techniques just aren’t working for you, then try a distraction technique – thinking about how relieved you are going to feel afterwards. Think about what you will be able to do with your free time once you don’t have to spend it revising. Hopefully, you won’t have had much opportunity to spend money over the past few weeks, so think about what you are going to treat yourself to. Hopefully, giving yourself something to look forward to will enable you to get a grip of yourself. 

If you have tried all these methods and are still finding that your anxiety gets the better of you in an exam, it may be time to seek a doctor’s advice. Depending on your age, there may be medication that you can try, or your doctor may recommend counselling.