How To Overcome Test Anxiety And Accomplish More

Taking tests is a part of life. It starts in grade school, carries on through college, and becomes necessary when trying to acquire specific accolades and milestones throughout your personal and professional life. As exams are tools used to measure your comprehension and skills, most people find them intimidating. While some people can brush off their apprehension and excel, others become overwhelmed by anxiety and fold under pressure. 

If you fit into the ladder category, you probably wish you could do away with tests altogether. Since that’s not likely to happen, the most practical solution is to develop strategies to ease test anxiety. Below are some effective tips to try. 

Identify The Cause

The most efficient way to heal from mental health problems such as test anxiety is to identify the cause. What is it about taking exams that triggers worry and panic? Here are some of the most common reasons:

  • Performance Pressure – When you set out to accomplish something, you want to be the best at it. As a result, you set high expectations for yourself or place too much significance on pleasing others. 
  • Fear of Failure – You are worried about what will happen or how others will view you if you fail the test. You’ve come to believe that failing the test somehow defines you as a person, student, or professional. 
  • Lack Of Preparedness – You haven’t prepared for the test. Consequently, you don’t remember the fundamental concepts necessary to get a passing grade. 
  • Academic, Personal, or Professional Stressors – Stresses in other areas of your life are taking up too much of your time and thoughts, reducing your confidence in acing the exam. 

Categorize Your Fears/Triggers

Now that you know what causes your anxiety, it’s time to change your mindset. Sit with your thoughts about tests and categorize your fears as realistic and unfounded. Realistic fears are thoughts or feelings that are backed by facts or reality. For example, if your anxiety increases because you haven’t studied for the test, it’s realistic to assume that your grades will suffer. On the contrary, believing that your peers won’t respect you if you fail is an unfounded fear. 

You can overcome unfounded fears and triggers by replacing those negative thoughts with positive ones (or facts). For instance, talking to your peers about their fears, apprehensions, and outcomes when taking exams can dispel the belief that they would lose respect should you fail. Knowing that everyone had obstacles to overcome can ease your fears and give you the emotional boost to pass the test. 

Develop A Study Routine

Realistic fears are best resolved by developing a plan to decrease the likelihood of a negative outcome. Take lack of preparedness, for instance. Creating better study habits increases your comprehension of the material, improving your chances of getting a good grade on the exam. 

Review your schedule to determine the best time to study and block out this time, so there are no distractions. Create a checklist to ensure you have everything you need to study, including books, homework assignments, class notes, flashcards, a calculator, and a computing device. Tap into resources like online videos, tutoring services, and study guides. 

If the subject matter is complex, like a medical school entrance exam, taking an MCAT practice test online can give you insight into where you are and what areas you need to study more aggressively. Many platforms provide them for free, so you can take them as often as you need until you’re satisfied with the results. 

Reduce Or Eliminate Outside Stressors

If your test anxiety is caused by the emotional, physical, or financial burden of other obligations, you must reduce or eliminate the pressure. If you’re overwhelmed by the course load, you might consider solutions like taking fewer classes, breaking large projects into small sections, or talking with your instructor. If your responsibilities as a parent take up too much of your time, enlisting help from loved ones or rearranging your household schedule can ease your anxiety. 

Whether you’re a teenager trying to get a driver’s license, a college student looking to get into medical school, or a business professional interested in a promotion, anxiety is a common reaction to taking a test. However, when the anxiety becomes so overwhelming that it hinders your ability to pass, it’s best to take action. Identifying the cause, categorizing your fears, dispelling unfounded thoughts, and implementing anxiety-reducing strategies can help you accomplish more. 

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