Overcoming Test Anxiety
This chapter has talked a lot about not falling victim to a case of the nerves, or becoming so anxious/nervous that you can’t utilize—to your maximum potential—all the great preparation and work you’ve put into studying for the test.
There is no guarantee you won’t be nervous, and remember that a little nervousness can be a good thing: It can keep you focused on the task at hand. Still, consider the following suggestions for overcoming test anxiety:
- The best defense is a good offense—This is especially true when it comes to dealing with text anxiety. Make sure you are well prepared for the test. Study in advance, and don’t cram the night before. Bottom line: Walk into the testing center confident that you will perform to the best of your ability.
- Avoid caffeine overdose—Unless you expect most of it to end up in your lap, take it easy on the caffeine, especially if you are not a morning person to begin with, or if you don’t normally drink lots of caffeine. Too much Mountain Dew/coffee/insert-favorite-caffeinated-beverage-here can make you very jittery. On the other hand, if you always have a cup of java in the morning, don’t risk caffeine withdrawal symptoms (translation: very bad headache) by not having it.
- Don’t forget to breathe—Remember that breathing is a necessary component of that thing we call living (!), so if you find yourself panting or hyperventilating, take some deep breaths and relax. Stay focused on the task at hand, and remember how well prepared you are.
- Mark some time to get nervous after the test—Yes, you read that right: Give yourself permission to be nervous/freak out/yell/scream/and so on...after the test. Seriously, if you make part of the test-taking process a "cool down" session, you’ll be surprised to find this might take away a great deal of your pre-test (and during the test) anxiety. One idea is to have a favorite CD loaded in your car, so as you drive away from the test center, you can rock out (or mellow out, depending on your preference) and release all that anxiety. Planning for this type of stress release can keep you from becoming overly nervous during the exam.