THE BLOG
05/10/2011 04:49 pm ET Updated Jul 10, 2011

10 Tips to Deal With Test Anxiety

It's that time of the year when most of the students are having their final exams while some are soon taking standardized tests like the SAT and GRE. Many times students know the content on the test but are nervous due to test anxiety which finally affects their score. Test anxiety happens to almost everyone at least once or twice during their school years. However, if you regularly experience test anxiety, it can be discouraging. After all, you know that you know the material and that you studied hard. Yet once you enter the classroom, you feel as though your mind has gone blank and that the words on the test were written in a whole different language.

Thankfully, there are ways to deal with test anxiety. Having taken lots of tests, quizzes and exams and done fairly well on almost all of them, I have listed some tips that have been very useful to me. Try a couple as you prepare for your next test. If they work well for you, great! If they don't work well, don't get discouraged. Try a couple other tips next time. You'll figure out the right combination that will help you feel confident and prepared for tests.

1. Get a good night's rest: Even though you may think that you need to stay up late and study longer, you'll do better on the test by getting seven or eight hours of sleep. When you sleep, your circulation system is hard at work. One of the benefits is that it's sending oxygen to your brain which in turn helps you to relax.

2. When possible, study in small sessions over a few days: There's nothing worse than realizing the night before the test that there's way too much material to learn. As soon as you know that a test is scheduled, devise a timeline of what needs to be studied and how many days you have to study. Planning ahead of time for a test is the key to success.

3. Eat a good breakfast: Study after study have proven that students do much better on tests when they eat a healthy breakfast. Try whole wheat toast with peanut butter and orange juice. Just not into breakfast? Drink a nutrition shake.

4. Do not study during the final 15 minutes: 15 minutes before the test is about to commence is the most important time for you. Do not open your book at this time but instead talk to your friends and other students about different concepts. Have a casual conversation. If you do not have anyone around you, play Sudoku on your ipod touch or iphone -- it would relax you and at the same time help you to concentrate.

5. Boost your self-confidence: Yes, you know everything for the test that you were supposed to know. Let yourself know about it. Try to remember some positive stories about yourself. You might have done really well in one of the earlier tests -- remember that time and it would help you to boost your self confidence for this test as well.

6. Take a deep breath: When the test is handed out, keep it face down. Take a few deep breaths and remind yourself that you know the material. When your breathing is normal and your heart rate is resting, then turn the test over and begin.

7. Concentrate during the test: Some students experience test anxiety because they're highly distracted by other test takers. They watch to see who has already flipped to the next page or who seems to be struggling with a question. If you tend to have this experience, ask your teacher if you can sit in the front row.

8. Read the Directions: Read through the directions and make sure you understand them. If they appear confusing, ask your teacher to explain them.

9. Be smart: For multiple choice Math questions, use the given choices to your advantage. Plug the answers back in the question and see if it "makes sense" to be the answer. For English section, read the question and come up with an answer that you believe is right. Then look at the choices given to you and choose one.

10. Don't over analyze questions: Most tests do not contain trick questions. Sometimes when you think about a question too hard, your mind tries to convince you that the question is more difficult than what it is.

Hang in there. Utilize these tips and your test taking skills will improve.

To get more tips on taking tests and doing well on the exams, subscribe to my blog at EduCare