11 Strategies to Reduce Test Anxiety

Having test anxiety when it comes to the SAT and ACT is very common. Test anxiety can range from just being a little nervous to having physical symptoms such as a racing heartbeat, headache, or nausea. While test scores are just one piece of the college admission puzzle, many students worry about taking the test. You might be having test anxiety because you fear doing poorly, didn’t spend enough preparing, or have had a bad experience in the past. Whatever your reason for having test anxiety, there are things you can do to ease the anxiety. Below are 11 things to do to ease your test anxiety.

1. Know what to expect

Don’t go into the test blind. Learn more about the SAT or ACT before you take the test. Both the SAT and the ACT offer sample questions and test. Learn about the material that may be covered. Take a few timed practiced tests so you can see where you need to do further studying.

2. Study in advance

Don’t wait until the last minute to start studying for the test. Start studying a few months prior to the test. Take advantage of test prep resources that offer sample questions, test tips, and other information about the college entrance exams. If you can’t afford paying for test prep services, there are many free resources available online and at your local library.

3. Know your test location

If you are not familiar with the test location, take a trip to the location before the test. You don’t want to get lost on the way to the test and arrive late.

4. Prepare required items the night before

The SAT and ACT have a test day checklist of required and suggested items. Prepare all of the items the night before so you are not searching for them the morning of the test.

5. Go to bed early

When you’re tired, it is harder to concentrate. Do your best to go to sleep as early as needed for you to take up in the morning feeling well rested.

6. Sleep where you are more comfortable

If you do some last minute studying the night before the test, don’t go overboard and fall asleep where you are studying. You won’t sleep well with your head down on your desk or on the kitchen table. Do your best to get to your own bed. Sleeping where you’re most comfortable will mean you are more likely to feel rested in the morning.

7. Set your alarm

Of course you are going to set your alarm. If you use your phone like most of us for your alarm, set a few alarms just in case you accidentally dismiss your alarm instead of pressing snoozing. If you are the type of person who has a hard time waking up in the morning, you might want to consider placing your alarm across the room so you will be forced to get out of bed. You don’t want to wake up late and rush while getting ready, or even worth, sleep through the start of the exam.

8. Eat a good breakfast

They say breakfast is the most important meal of the day. This is especially true when you’re taking the SAT or ACT. Eating a good meal helps you to feel good and will help your cognitive skills. Eat a healthy breakfast and skip the sugary foods and drink.

9. Stay positive

Negativity leads to anxiety. As soon as you start having a negative though about the test, stop yourself from thinking those thoughts. Keep telling yourself that you can do it. It is also important to stay away from other negative or anxious test takers. When you hear others being negative, it makes it easier to think negative thoughts.

10. Read everything carefully

When tests are timed, it is easy to want to rush through the materials. You might want to skim through the instructions to save time! Don’t! Read everything carefully. You don’t want to put a lot of time and effort into a question and then realize you answered the question wrong because you didn’t understand the question.

11. Don’t pay attention to others

It is common to look around the room when taking a test and see others that seem to be having an easier time taking the test. Paying attention to others will only distract you from taking the test. Focus on your on test.

Don’t let test anxiety get the best of you. Prepare before the test, stay positive, and take care of yourself. By doing these things, your anxiety will ease and you’ll feel better as you are approaching and taking the exam.

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One Comment on “11 Strategies to Reduce Test Anxiety

  1. I really appreciate your tip on how eating a good breakfast can lead to increased cognitive skills for test taking! My son told me that he is very nervous for a big math test that he has coming up. I will be sure to make him a good breakfast and let him know that it will increase his cognitive abilities!

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