How To Deal With Your Test Stress

Elena Bai, News Editor

Three weeks into the school year, and we students are already being bombarded with tests. As such, I have already begun to see and experience cases of test anxiety. However, I have compiled a list of tips and tricks to help fight this dreaded affliction. 

  • Be prepared

   One of the ways to alleviate test anxiety is to be prepared. If you know the information well, you are more likely to feel confident, or at least settle into the test. By studying ahead of time instead of cramming the night before, you also reduce the chance of the information being replaced by new information or not being fully committed to memory.

  • Try some breathing exercises

   If you feel yourself breathing irregularly or beginning to feel nervous, try some breathing exercises. Try breathing in for 5 seconds, holding it for 3 seconds, and breathing out through lips, similar to whistling, for 7 seconds or a quick meditative exercise: take a deep breath and take time to think about how your chest and abdomen are moving. 

  • Convince yourself that you’re excited

   The physiological effects of being nervous are similar to those of being excited. So, another method is to try to convince yourself that you feel excited rather than nervous. When you feel nervous, you are more likely to have nervous thoughts that block out the information that you worked so hard to learn. 

  • Watch your thinking

   If you think about feeling nervous, you will only get more nervous. So, if you start thinking about how nervous or unprepared you are, try to stop and think more confidently, or distracting yourself with something completely different. Thoughts such as “Everything is okay,” and questions like “Is there any actual danger?” can help you calm down before the test.  

  • Imagine yourself doing well

   This is a technique used by many professional athletes and performers. Imagining yourself confidently taking a test beforehand can help with anxiety if you can reproduce that feeling when you are taking the actual test. 

  • Eliminate external stressors

   This one is fairly self-explanatory. Make sure that you are not late and that you have pencils, erasers, and anything else you may need for the test. Even if it is not a big issue, a raised heart rate from rushing to prepare yourself will only serve to make you more nervous. 

  • Try chewing some gum

   Many studies have shown that chewing gum can actually help relieve stress. In fact, the more forcefully a person chews gum, the less stress they feel. This could be due to increased blood flow to the brain or altered brain waves that mimic alpha waves.

  • Exercise

   Another good way to prevent test anxiety is to do some exercise beforehand. Exercise releases endorphins, which naturally lift your mood. It also helps get rid of extra energy.

  • Create a pre-test ritual

   One of my favorite ways to decrease test stress and anxiety is by creating a pre-test routine or ritual. Something like a dance, game, or task to do before the test to get focused and create a comforting sense of familiarity. It is often the case that the sillier the routine is, the better, as being silly allows you and even the people around you to relax a bit more. Just remember not to push yourself past the point of your comfort zone. 

   Whether you have your first test next week or have already taken it, I hope that these tips will help you throughout the year. If all else fails, remember that no matter who you are, your grade does not define you and even if you do not do well, life is going to be alright.