For those who suffer from testing anxiety, in-class exams and retaking the ACT or SAT is an awful prospect. Here are twelve tips to help ease the anxiety. Remember, don’t stop. Never give up.
Get a good night sleep the WEEK before
Your body needs sleep. In actuality, if you want to perform well, you need to pay down that sleep debt and get good sleep for multiple days before the test. It won’t do much if you get a good night’s sleep the night before but no sleep the previous week.
It’s cliche, but true. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Your body will prepare itself much better if you eat a good breakfast -- not just sugar. Mass amounts of sugar can make your body jittery too. Skip the donut, eat some yogurt. Protein is the best option, but do what feels right: just eat.
Bring snacks and water
You’ll definitely get thirsty. If you’re allowed a snack, bring it!
I don’t mean anything crazy here. The purpose of meditation is to remember who you are outside of the moment. If you feel panic rising, ask yourself this: “who am I?” Remind yourself that you are more than this test. You are a person trying his or her best on a test that you cannot control. No matter what happens on this test, you will be fine afterwards.
Remember: you're not the only one being tested
As you glance at other test-takers, remember, they're in the same position you are. Don't let yourself get psyched out if they look calm, cool, and collected. They're looking at you thinking the same thing. You are not alone in this.
Stop test practice 48 hours beforehand
This is especially true for ACT and SAT tests, which are aptitude based tests. Cramming for them will do more harm than good. Stop serious prep two days beforehand so that your mind and confidence can take control.
Prepare for the morning of your test
During those last 48 hours, prepare in a different way. Make sure you know where your test is and how you’ll get there. Check the identification you’ll need and make sure you have it. Buy snacks, water bottle, breakfast. Set all the alarms in the world if you need it.
If you struggle or get stuck on a question, stay positive. If you run late, think of the positives, like “gosh, it’s great I planned extra time in case this happens.” Tests are all about persisting and maintaining confidence. Frame your situation as positively as you can.
Take a deep breath
If you need to take a minute to get your heart rate under control, do it. You’ll be more productive afterwards.
Just skip it
Don’t know something? Skip it and come back. It’s OK to leave a question blank so you can answer the next seven questions. This is a timing game, so play it.
Focus on something concrete
If you feel your emotions spiraling out of control, pick a focal point in the room. Then, describe it to yourself. For example: the tree outside has eight branches and six roots. The bark is a grayish brown with creases in it. This tree is starting to lose its leaves, which are palm sized and probably difficult to rake.
Use the concrete descriptions to give your mind something to focus on besides the anxiety. Once your heart rate has slowed a bit, begin again.
Luck has nothing to do with it
If your lucky pencil broke, it’s going to be fine. Did you sit in the seventh seat and not the fourteenth like you wanted? That’s fine too. You are more than this test or lucky charms.