Taking any type of test can be stressful, especially those that are timed. The mere mention of timed tests can evoke feelings of unease, as thoughts concerning whether or not we can finish on time tend to surface. When this happens, the fact that we know the material or are confident in our abilities, takes a sideline to our anxiety. Altering the focus from the time restraint to the subject matter on the test will make you feel more in control. There are a number of other things you can do in order to alleviate the stress associated with timed tests.
Find a quiet place where you feel comfortable to study for the test.
Take a couple of deep breaths and clear your head.
Lay the practice exam, your writing tools, the timer and any other needed materials (for example: if it’s a math test you may need a calculator or protractor) on the desk.
Set the timer for the same amount of time you will be given to complete the real test and place it off to the side, so it’s not in your immediate line of vision.
Start your practice exam.
Identify Your Strengths and Weaknesses
Record how much time it took you to complete the test, even if the timer went off before you were able to finish.
Go over the test with an answer key to grade it.
Highlight the areas that were difficult or required more time to complete than the others and devote some time to studying those areas and looking over your notes.
Without setting the timer, retake the parts of the test that were difficult or required more time to complete.
Reset the timer and take the practice exam a few more times. After every time you take it, jot down the whether or not you were able to complete the test within the designated time period.
Count the number of questions on the test and divide that number by the number of minutes you’ll have to complete it. This will give you an idea of how many minutes you'll have to spend on each question.
Change your focus from the time aspect to the subject content. Chances are you’re familiar with certain areas of the test and will not need to spend the full amount of time on these questions.
Make a mental note of sections of the test that require less of your time, as this means you’ll have extra time for those questions that are more difficult.
Taking the Test
Get a good night's sleep and eat a healthy meal the morning of the test.
Imagine that the area you are taking the test is the same quiet place you felt comfortable in while studying.
Take a minute to acknowledge the fact that you did your best to prepare and feel confident that your exam results will reflect this.
Begin the test and use the time factor only as a guide. If you feel yourself getting worked up or stressed, skip the question and take a minute to go over some positive affirmations in your head.
Practice time management for the test in a way that is not so intimidating. Play timed board games or computer games for practice. Learn some stress-reducing activities (yoga, breathing exercises, coloring). Create flashcards and hold a study session to ensure you are fully prepared for the test.
Realize that stress is just a feeling and don't give it the power to take over.
- Practice time management for the test in a way that is not so intimidating.
- Play timed board games or computer games for practice.
- Learn some stress-reducing activities (yoga, breathing exercises, coloring).
- Create flashcards and hold a study session to ensure you are fully prepared for the test.
- Realize that stress is just a feeling and don't give it the power to take over.
Serena Spinello holds two master’s degrees and is pursuing her Ph.D. in medical science. She has been a professional writer and researcher for over 10 years and is an active member of the American Medical Writers Association, Academy of Medical Educators, and the National Association of Social Workers.