There are 3 phases that I continue to educate my clients on when working to overcome test anxiety.
Phase 1: Getting ready for the test
Phase 2: During the test
Phase 3: Post test
Phase 4: BONUS ROUND
Before you skip over this, I really want you to consider if “you are dealing with your anxiety effectively?”. “Are you scoring the grades that you feel you deserve?”. If so, then skip over and pass this information to someone else.
If you want to better your grades, to manage your anxiety, and to feel control over your anxiety symptoms. Let’s rock this!
I have an Anxiety quiz that you can take (literally no more than 45 seconds to take it). Click here.
PHASE 1: GETTING READY FOR THE TEST
One magic word: PREPARATION.
Preparation means: that you are literally imagining yourself going through the day of your test.
Take some time a few days or even weeks prior to the test to walk through your location. Go to your testing room. Sit down at the chair that you will mostly likely be at. Take your pencil, paper and other materials that you plan to have with you. Pick the outfit that you are going to wear and the meal you’ll eat for breakfast. Check out the walls, the pictures, and everything about the room. You want to feel in control.
Studying your way
There are hundreds of different ways that you can study. Some people use flashcards while others read the material one or two times. The point is that you want to play around with the idea of which studying style works for you. Ask your friends, family, teachers and others how they study.
Practice different styles until you “comfortable, confident and receiving positive progress on your test”.
When you find a studying strategy that works be sure to use it. It’s going to be really hard to start using a NEW STUDYING HABIT because you are used to using your old one. Practice over and over until you are using the new and more effective habit. In addition, “NO CRAMMING”.
PHASE 2: DURING THE TEST
Creating a game plan for your test is the number one priority in Phase 2. This game plan is going to be 2 things: Awesome and Effective.
Write down about 5 to 10 different sentences that can make you feel confident in yourself during the test.
WAIT! First do this.
I want you to take 1 to 2 minutes and imagine yourself during one of your test that you experience anxiety. I really want you to pretend that it is happening. Right now, this very moment. Close your eyes if you need to. Consider how you feel mentally and physically.
Are you sweating?
Are your hands shaking?
Are you forgetting everything that you studied?
Are you upset?
Now that you are living in the moment and have a really good idea of your anxiety. Write down 5 to 10 different sentences that will:
Make you feel better!
Help you focus on the test!
Help you focus on how awesome you are!
Remind you that you studied your butt off!
Ask your teacher if you can have the statements on your desk during the test. There really shouldn’t be a reason that you won’t be able to. If you feel comfortable you can tell your teacher a little bit about your anxiety and plan to overcome it during test.
PHASE 3: POST TEST
Think about the last test that made you feel anxious. Now think about how you felt after the test. After meaning, the moment that you handed the test in. You more than likely stood up and gave your teacher the test or the teacher collected it from you.
After taking my test I felt __________________________________________.
Most students with test anxiety after taking a test feel:
Upset at yourself for not controlling the anxiety, worry and stress.
Worried that you forgot something or did a question incorrectly.
Stressed about your results.
Angry because you think you didn’t do well.
A little bit of help goes a long way
Now write down 2 to 3 statements that would make you feel better, confident, empowered, and in control. Imagine that someone would tell you these statements after your test. How would you feel? I’m sure that you would feel better, confident, empowered and in control!
The statements that you write down should be with you during the day of the test. Use them.
People that boost your spirit
Tell your friends about your test anxiety and your positive statements. Ask for a favor?
“_______ do you mind giving me an awesome statement after my test?”
Let your friend know what to tell you. You can be as upfront and obvious as you want. There is no right or wrong answer. It really depends on how you feel once your friend or peer says the statement to you.
At times a statement may not be enough. You may want a high five, hug, or a super-secret hand shake. Again, it is really about you and finding what makes you feel better, confident, empowered, and in control.
PHASE 4: BONUS ROUND – CHEAT SHEET
Focus on the “AWARENESS”
Anxiety is often associated with “negative racing thoughts or bad thoughts about yourself“. For instance, ” I am going to fail this test and get an F“
Work to become aware of your anxiety by testing yourself through questions:
When I get anxious I physically experience the following symptoms ___________________.
When I’m taking a test I feel ___________________________________________________.
Prior to taking my test I feel ___________________________________________________.
Focusing on positive behaviors and gestures. Recognizing positive improvements or even positive acts can make a BIG change.
4x4x4 is an exercise that I came up with a while back. It’s really simple. Inhale for a duration of 4 seconds, exhale for a duration of 4 seconds and practice it 4 times. The difference in this exercise and what you may be doing now is that in this exercise you are
Focusing on your breathing and numbers versus the anxiety
Engaging in a true deep breathing cycle.
Write down positive “I” statements
You want “I” statements that impact your anxiety thoughts. For instance, if you grow anxious due to the thought “if I don’t pass my test I’ll fail the class, my parents will be upset.”
Write down some positive “I” statements and post them in your room, car or phone.
Examples of positive “I” statements may include,
- “I am going to get an A on this test”.
- “I am not going to feel nervous during my test”
Hoping that you enjoyed the read and are ready to kick “test anxieties” butt!
cover images by: inbal marilli; joshua earle; jordan mcqueen