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Test Anxiety

What it is: 

Anxious feelings or nervousness before and during a test that often lowers performance


What it is not: 

Anxiety caused by not studying, not studying effectively, being “in over your head” in a course



headaches, heart pounding, sweating, stomach upset, mind goes blank, thoughts may race, inability to concentrate or remember, wish to get out of the situation

 Strategies to Reduce Anxiety Before and During Tests


  • Get regular exercise; cut down on sugar and caffeine
  • Get adequate sleep
  • Take brief breaks regularly during studying
  • Practice regular deep breathing daily.  For at least 10 minutes a day, AND whenever feeling anxious:
    • Breathe in slowly and deeply, silently counting to 4 or 5
    • Exhale slowly to the count of 4 or 5; when exhaling, imagine letting go of tension, letting go of worries and negative thoughts
  • Practice whole body relaxation daily
    • If you would like to learn how to do this, you can schedule a brief session with a counselor at Edgewood’s Counseling services, DeRicci 206, 663-2281
    • There are also cassette tapes available in bookstores that help guide a relaxation exercise

Mental and Emotional

  • Learn how to challenge negative thoughts that spiral into “catastrophic” thinking and result in anxiety or panic feelings
    • Notice when your thoughts move from a concern about a subject to catastrophizing it or feeling that things are “awful”
    • Learn how to interrupt and change global negative thoughts to more positive, realistic thoughts

For individual help with anxiety or stress, contact Janet Billerbeck
For individual help with test preparation and test taking, contact Learning Support Services
Student Resource Center, DeRicci 206, 663-2281

Helpful Resources: Master Your Panic, by Denise Beckfield; The Feeling Good Handbook, by David Burns; The Anxiety and Phobia Workbook 

*****Edgewood College Counseling Services*****