Tips to Beat Test Anxiety

Planning ahead

  • Attend every class...after all, you paid for them.
  • Review to keep the information fresh.
  • Keep up with reading and assignments.
  • Work with a classmate to discuss difficult material or quiz each other.
  • Go to your professor's office hours...that's why they have them.
  • Work on different problems rather than just the assignment.
  • Take an old exam to practice time management and get exposure to exam-type problems. 

Know the location

  • Do homework in the classroom—associate the room with what you know.
  • Is the room warm or cold?  Dress comfortably in layers.
  • Notice distractions like hallway traffic, sunlight or other noises.

Before the exam

  • Be positive.  Feeling good translates into confidence and will help ensure you put forward your very best. 
  • Get a good night's sleep.  Rest is always better for recall.  
  • Don't study right up to the exam time.  Take an hour to relax, compose yourself, and reflect on what you know.
  • Take a brisk walk to get your juices flowing, help you focus, and release any tension.
  • Eat a healthy and light meal for energy.

During the exam

  • Sit where you are comfortable.
  • Make sure you can see a clock.
  • Read all the instructions.  If they do not make sense...ask.
  • Quickly scan your entire test to get an idea of the questions and how many there are to answer.
  • Budget your time (give yourself a rough time limit for each problem by dividing the number of problems by the length of time you have to take the exam).
  • Answer questions you know first—don't worry about going in order.  By answering ones you know, you'll gain confidence.
  • If you get stuck, take a deep breath, close your eyes and visualize the problem.  Or, move on and come back.
  • Do as much of a problem as you can...partial credit is still points toward your final score!
  • Save at least 5 minutes at the end to go back over your test to make sure you didn't miss anything or make any trivial mistakes.

After the exam

  • Relax.  Chat with friends, exercise, watch a favorite show—do what you need to do to unwind.
  • When you get the test back, go over it.  See what you got right, and what you got wrong.  
  • Go talk to the professor, especially if you are unsure of how they graded something--who knows, maybe you'll receive points after you explain your reasoning?
  • If you are concerned about your score and what you have learned, consider signing up for a tutor.