Finals: Test Anxiety and How to Cope

First of all, good luck on your finals!

This is the week when all sorts of nervousness attacks you, but you know you’re a rock star and leave them behind, right?

The thing is, if you let that feeling consumes you, then you won’t be able to perform as well this week. Test anxiety is a real thing and it doesn’t necessarily happen at the time of the exam. If you found yourself having a very difficult time last week and started to question your knowledge or intelligence at all…then you were probably experiencing some pre-test anxiety symptoms. I’m not an expert on the conceptual matter of this, but I say that if you’ve experienced something yourself, you’re more than capable of talking about it like a pro. And yes, I get very, very anxious with exams.

There’s a before, during and after stages of this issue, which are important to know, because I feel like people only worry about the “during” phase. There are also various types of symptoms, but they all connect in-between phases. Let’s take this as some sort of cycle.

The before stage mostly treats and messes with your head and your feelings. If you’re experiencing low self-esteem, and almost everything that you’re thinking include words such as “failure” and “I can’t”… What can you do?

  • Find a mirror and repeat the words “I can do it” as many times as you can…because you for sure can!
  • Also, you can talk to a friend about how you’re feeling. Friends can lift your self-esteem like no other, and also you have other person to tell you how awesome you are!
  • One thing that I do, I write every negative thought and fight them each with two or three positive ones. It shows me that there’s no room for negativity!
  • Get something sweet. There might be times when you feel light-headed (and this also may happen during an exam), so get a candy before the low sugar starts to affect you
  • Take a break, breathe. They’re simple, but–wow–they help on moments like this

The during stage is where everything pretty much clashes. Everything goes blank just as you read the first word, you start sweating and feeling nauseous–and not because of that muffin you had for breakfast. If you’re feeling that your heart is skipping beats, you should:

  • Take slow and deep breaths…close your eyes
  • Calmly read the instructions. If you’re blank and don’t know the answer for that question, skip it and go to another one. Time is precious and you don’t want to waste it. Budget your test taking time
  • Move around. Maybe shuffling on your seat might help you relax
  • Shut down your ears. All five senses heighten while anxious, but hearing is probably the most annoying one. The turn of pages of other people exams and pencils frantically scribbling may drive you crazy. Try to play music inside your head and completely ignore your surroundings
  • Don’t panic when the first student hands out the test. It’s not a race, you go slow and steady if that works for you
  • Have some water with you to deal with the nauseous feeling
  • If it’s an essay exam, brainstorm some words and look for the keys that might trigger your brain. Compare and contrast things

Now, the after stage is when, even if you just got done with the exam, still feel those butterflies running around your stomach. Also, this is the time when your senses shut back to normal all of the sudden…that’s why it feels like something just smashed you. But you got to take some things into consideration.

  • It’s over. Don’t over-think what already happened. You’re awesome and did your best over there
  • Don’t compare answers with others. This will only prolong your anxiousness and bug you until the test is graded
  • Reward yourself. After a long and awful exam, you survived! Go out for some ice cream or have a movie night

It also all comes together to your study habits and strategies that you use. Some long-term solutions for overcoming test anxiety are reviewing your past performances and seeing how you could improve. Things such as exercise and rest do affect your performance, and you want to find ways to apply those in your everyday life from now on.

  • Take a walk before sitting for an hour to study
  • Don’t pull all-nighters because–contrary to popular belief–they don’t work or are not as effective as people say they are
  • Take one hour breaks…your brain will get too tired. Take it as recharging batteries. My break is writing this–hopefully–helpful blog for you!
  • Vary your content. Your brain can also get tired of seeing the same thing for pages…jump between sections
  • Caffeine can be your worst enemy. Even when it helps you be awake, caffeine itself triggers symptoms of anxiety
  • Be aware of your anxiety cycle. Identifying triggers and moments can more specifically help you treat with the issue

Also, you need to know that a little anxiety is always, always expected…I mean, that’s what motivates the brain to work and get all of those concepts to light. But, when it becomes a problem and affects your test performance every single time…that’s when you need to try to look for ways to keep it to a manageable level.

Like I said, you’re a rock star, and I strongly believe we can dominate and overcome this week together!

“I’ll fail that matching part on my sociology test.” 

  1. I’m such a good guesser! But I also know the terms…BOOM!
  2. I just dominated my quiz last week!

BOOM! The thought was crossed off with awesomeness.

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If Batman says you can do it…you can do it! Also, if I can cope with my anxiety, you can do it too! 🙂

Good luck on your finals!

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