You have a big exam coming up and just thinking about it causes you to tremble. You feel prepared, but when you get to class, you feel sick to your stomach. You are experiencing test anxiety.

According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, text anxiety statistics indicate that 30 percent of students are negatively impacted by test anxiety. A combination of physical and emotional symptoms, test anxiety may manifest as dizziness, emotional swings, headaches or nausea. Never fear: There are many things that you can do to treat test anxiety.

1. Be Prepared and Ready

If you study hard and feel secure with the content, you’ll have more confidence when you enter the classroom. It’s best to take your time studying for the exam. If you cram the night before, you’re more likely have heightened anxiety.

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Don't just learn the material; try testing yourself as part of the preparation. You can even ask your roommate to quiz you.

And finally, avoid talking to classmates about the test material, right before the exam. Any difference of opinion about the content will only make you feel more nervous.

2. Relaxation Techniques for Test Anxiety

If you’re prone to test anxiety, it’s important to incorporate strategies to reduce the daily stress in your life.

Try practicing yoga as part of your daily routine. Begin your regular study sessions with meditation or mental centering. Put your hands over your eyes, without touching your face. Envision a relaxing setting and imagine yourself enjoying the calm of the scene. Do this for two minutes. Make this ritual a part of your study habits as one of your relaxation techniques for test anxiety.

3. Think Positive Thoughts

Don’t underestimate the power of positive thinking. You may be inclined to engage in negative self-talk like, “this is impossible” or “there’s no way I’ll learn all of this”, but if you reverse this mindset, you’ll be more successful.

Positive self-talk will help you stay motivated and encouraged as you tackle tough subjects that may seem impossible. If you tell yourself that anything is possible at the beginning of your study session or a test, you’ll start with a positive mental advantage. Stop yourself from negative thoughts that may block you from doing well on the test.

4. Practice Wellness Habits and Self-Care

Text anxiety symptoms can be lessened, if you engage in healthy practices each day.

  • Eat a balanced meal and avoid junk food with high fat content. 
  • Get eight to ten hours of sleep each night, especially right before an exam. 
  • Don’t pull  an all-nighter to prepare for a test. You’re more likely to be successful, if you’re well rested. 
  • Regular exercise is key. Dedicate four to six hours per week for aerobic activity. When you get your body moving, your mind is reinforced with positive energy. 
  • Finally, give yourself a break from studying. Believe it or not, you can get study fatigue. Balance study time with fun time.

5. Stay Focused and Grounded

Exam day calls for extra measures to ease test anxiety. Arrive early for your exam and sit somewhere that is free from distractions. Posture is important so keep your feet flat on the ground and avoid slumping in your chair.

Close your eyes and breathe deeply for ten seconds, right before the exam. Block out other activity in the room and solely focus on your test. Remind yourself that you’re prepared and ready for the exam.

If you face a difficult question, skip it and move on to the next one. Anytime that you feel your anxiety rising, take a break and focus on your breathing and engage in positive self-talk.

If you regularly practice these relaxation techniques for test anxiety, they will become a natural routine. After the exam, reward yourself with something fun.

About the Author

Dr. Kelly Meier earned her doctorate from Minnesota State Mankato in Educational Leadership. She is the author and co-author of 12 books and serves as a consultant in K-12 and higher education. Dr. Meier is is a regular contributor for The Equity Network and has worked in education for more than 30 years.