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Test-Taking Tips for Anxious Students

by John

Test anxiety is a real issue, and it’s relatively common. Studies have shown that anywhere from 25% to 40% of students have testing anxiety, which can significantly impede performance. While how much time you put into understanding the material is the most important factor, there are other steps you can take to prepare yourself for a more successful test-taking experience. With a good plan in place, you can feel more confident and at ease when it’s time for your next big exam.

Get Plenty of Sleep

Your brain needs enough rest to function properly and promote memory and focus. Everyone’s sleep needs are different, but in general, you should follow these guidelines:

  • 9-12 hours per night for people between the ages of 6 and 12
  • 8-10 hours per night for people between the ages of 13 and 18
  • 7 or more hours per night for people between the ages of 18 and 60
  • 7-9 hours per night for people between the ages of 61 and 64

If you aren’t getting enough sleep at night, set yourself up for success by limiting or eliminating your caffeine intake after 2:00 pm. Also, try to create a daily bedtime ritual or routine that helps you relax and fall asleep with ease. If you’re studying late into the night, set an alarm to help yourself stop and prioritize the sleep you need to retain the information, especially on the night before a test. Last-minute cramming isn’t very effective anyway.

Fuel Your Body With Proper Nutrition

If you’re hungry, low on energy, or not feeling well because your body isn’t getting the nutrients you need, it can be difficult to focus and perform well on an exam. Make a habit of eating a well-rounded diet and including vitamin and mineral supplements to help make sure you’re getting everything you need to support a healthy body and mind. Never skip meals on test day and eat a light but satisfying snack right before your test. Crunchy foods can be especially helpful in minimizing occasional stress.

Create a Study Schedule

No matter how much material you’re covering, the ideal approach is to gradually master each item over a longer period of time. Organize the topics you need to know and distribute them evenly over the days and weeks leading up to your test. Having a plan will make you more likely to stick to a good schedule. Also, set aside a specific time in your day to get your studying done, and do what you must to set yourself up for success, even if that means turning off your phone or leaving your home to avoid distractions.

Find Healthy Ways to Combat Test Stress

When stress and anxiety start to creep in, it’s good to already have some healthy practices in place that you can use right before and even during your test. Meditation, stretching, and mindful breathing techniques can all be very helpful. Exercising on a regular basis and making time for friends and hobbies are also important when you’re preparing for a big test.

Be Smart About Your Study Techniques

Everyone has different learning styles, so some techniques may help you retain information better than others. Take the time to identify your unique learning style so you can develop study strategies that will work for you. However, you’ll still want to diversify as much as possible if you want the material to really stick. Writing things down by hand, working with a partner, or teaching the material to someone else can all be very effective approaches.

Get Help Early

If you’re having trouble understanding the material or grasping a concept, don’t wait until the last few days before a test to get the help you need. As soon as you sense a struggle, talk with a teacher or professor or get yourself some supplementary materials to help you learn these more difficult topics. Remember, studying should be a review, not an introduction.

Taking a holistic approach to education and test-taking can help make the examination process much easier and less anxiety-ridden. Plan ahead so you can enjoy better peace of mind and give your best effort.

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