THE BLOG
06/03/2014 02:02 pm ET Updated Aug 03, 2014

4 Strategies to Overcome Test Anxiety

Nearly all students experience text anxiety at least once in their lives. It is natural to do so when facing the GRE, SAT, or perhaps even a weekly quiz. However, test anxiety can interfere with students' logical reasoning abilities and their memories. It can even result in a serious mental block.

Remaining calm on your exam day can help you manage such anxiety and ultimately lead to improvements in your grades. Here are four strategies to do so:

Study early and get enough sleep
Each person requires a different amount of sleep. Some students function beautifully on just five hours, while others need nine or more. Determine your ideal amount, then plan ahead for important exams by studying early. That way, you can avoid cramming the evening before and get the adequate amount of rest you need.

Take practice tests
This is not only a beneficial studying technique, but also a strong strategy to manage stress. Completing practice exams allows your mind to acclimate to the test format as well as the process of recalling specific information from memory. This can be especially helpful for standardized tests like the ACT and SAT, which require great mental endurance and critical thinking.

Practice exams can also help you build your confidence as you continuously increase your score. Simply feeling prepared and confident on test day can help mitigate stress.

Exercise in the morning
Exercising can enable you to dispel anxious feelings, thus allowing you to feel more relaxed during your test. It can also wake your brain, leading to a potential increase in cognitive functioning. This tactic makes particular sense for the ACT, GRE, SAT, and so on, when you can simply run around your neighborhood before your exam session. If you are fortunate enough to have the liberty to set your own class schedule, try to place gym time directly before your most difficult course (i.e. the one that is most stressful).

Relax and trust your preparation
Before you begin a test, devote several minutes to thinking about your prep plan. Do not worry about how you could have studied more--just remind yourself that you prepared effectively and efficiently. If you are still feeling stressed, try a simple relaxation technique like taking several deep, slow breaths; closing your eyes for a few moments; visualizing success, etc.

Happy testing!