Why do people have test anxiety?

Lack of preparedness is the number one cause. Other causes may be:

  • Past Experiences – Accepting the negative evaluation of a teacher or other authoritative figure who said that you could never master the subject matter.
  • Low self-esteem – Lacking confidence in your own work.
  • No regular study schedule – Relying heavily on cramming.                                
  • Poor study habits – Never learning how to study.
  • Dislike of subject matter – Thinking the topic is boring; not finding a reason to learn the material.
  • Worry – Creating problems when there are none.

Fifteen Ways to Relieve Test Anxiety

Since anxiety can be learned, it can also be unlearned. Use the following study techniques to enable you to do better the next time you take a test:

1.   Be prepared – Review regularly and often.

2.   Use positive thinking – Don’t let the negativity of others affect you.

3.   Believe in yourself and your abilities – Don’t panic. Take your time. Tell yourself, “You can do it!”

4.   Establish a regular study schedule – Study in one-hour blocks of fifty minutes of study followed by a ten-minute break. Study at the same time and in the same place.

5.   Learn and use good study skills – Time management, test-taking strategies, memory aids, note taking, mind mapping, relaxation techniques, etc.

6.  Make the course material relevant – Ask yourself, “How can I use this?”  Your answer can provide the reason to study the material. 

7.  Don’t invent problems – Worry is a waste of energy. Put your time into preparation. Start studying for your test the first day of class.

8.  Relax – Learn a relaxation technique that works for you. Arrive early on test day.

9.  Do not discuss the test with your classmates immediately before taking the test.

10.  Concentrate during the test – Avoid distractions. For example if the room is usually cold, bring a sweater. Eat before the test if you are hungry.

11. Read and follow the directions carefully – Don’t skip or rush through the instructions.

12. Scan the test before you begin – First answer a question that you feel confident about to get yourself going, to relax you, and to build confidence.

13. Be an active test taker – Work your way through the test. Don’t expect   the answers to jump out and grab you. Be the aggressor.

14. Ignore others who leave the test site early – Don’t make a race out of it. Being fast is not necessarily being right. Take all the time allowed. If you finish early, check your work.

15. Accept a test grade for what it is – Tests assess your understanding of the topic at that time. They do not assess you. Don’t give up on yourself. Your family and teachers are here to support you!