As a high school student, I know all about test anxiety.Several times in the beginning of high school I studied for hours for a test and then completely froze and forgot all the information I worked so hard to memorize. Since freshman year, however, I have recognized several pre-test practices that greatly reduce stress level:
Before the test
Associate – Create word and concept associations for everything you have to memorize. The sillier the associations, the easier they are to recall.(Heres an easy example: The capital of the U.S. is Washington D.C. Our first president was named Washington, so it makes sense that we would call our most important city after our most important president.)
Spread out the study – It is more effective to study for half an hour for 5 days than to study for 2 and a half hours for one day. Knowledge builds over time, and each time you study you will be able to understand a little more of the topic.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help – If you’re having a difficult time understanding major concepts, don’t be afraid to ask anyone around whose informed about the topic you don’t understand. There’s usually free tutoring available at schools, too. The Internet is also a great tool for learning and practice.
The night before the test
Eat well – If you happen to be on a diet before the test, ditch it for the dinner and breakfast prior to the test. A lack of nutrition exhausts the body and makes it hard to focus, and hunger pangs are extremely distracting during testing.
Get lots of sleep – You should study the night before the test, but for no more than a couple hours. It is important to clear your mind and get a good night’s sleep(at least 7 hours) before you go into a situation as stressful as testing.
Meditate – Before you go to sleep, take a few deep breaths and do a few stretches. Its easy to become overly tense while dreading an upcoming exam.
The day of the test
Take a hot shower – A shower will keep you calm and also wake you up.
Have a big breakfast – Be sure to eat a full breakfast prior to the test so you won’t be thinking about food during the test. Eat a bowl of cereal, some fruit, and drink juice or tea.
Make a small snack bag – Pack a lunch bag with a bottle of water, a fruit drink, an energy bar and an apple. Also bring gum or cough drops. Having gum in my mouth during a test relieves my anxiety and keeps me from nervously chewing on my pencil.
Be prepared – Be sure to bring extra pencils, erasers, pens, calculators, and whatever else is necessary for the test. Chances are that if you bring extras you won’t need to use them, but you’ll be a hero to whoever forgot their materials. It feels really good to help someone right before a test.
During the test
Relax – Breathe deeply a few times. Do the questions you know first to build your confidence. Believe in your own knowledge and ability. And above all, know that you have done all you could to make the test as easy as possible.