What About Test Anxiety?
Though research shows that between 20-50 percent of students
report test anxiety, much of test anxiety is symptomatic of
insufficient study strategies. If you alter your regular study
regime, you're likely to be less test-anxious. Proficient study is a
constant cycle of rehearsing new information and practicing it in
test-like conditions; i.e., recalling and writing information from
memory and/or working sample problems with no help within a time
Exercise: Begin by brainstorming and describing a time when you
experienced a major wave of test anxiety: What was it like, and what
did you do about it? Write down two of your worst experiences.
Analyze the situations.
Here are some suggestions:
1. Do not study late into the night right before the exam.
- New learning bumps out the previously stored info.
2. Arrive to the site early, but do not visit with others: You may
inherit their anxiety. Instead, indulge in positive messages: "I've
been doing work much like what this test will require; I know this
material." You can justifiably say this to yourself if you have a
regular, proficient system for learning.
3. Know that a certain degree of nervousness is healthy and
productive. You are creating energy to use to recall and use
4. You may actually wish to visit the room sometime near to the
exam to find a comfortable spot and to get familiar with being there
- this is a desensitization exercise.
5. Once in the exam, start with success, even if it means skipping
to a later part of the exam.
6. Strategic underlining and marking parts of the questions can
help you focus and reduce confusion. Also, it's vital to get what you
know out into the world where you can use it. Draw or write fleeting
bits of information as you go; leave a trail of your recall. We often
do not write on multiple choice exams. We can be prepared to leave
trails only if we practice recalling what we know as a regular part
of our study regimes.
7. Manage the test conditions. That is, deal with disruptive cues
such as a lack of choices of essay topics, big surprise questions or
problems, number of items, distraction from the proctor, or
temperature in the room.
8. If you have access to old tests, use them wisely to help you
prepare. Use them as real practice, don't memorize those questions
9. If possible, get practice exams from other professors teaching
the same subject. The information you practice can only help you.