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Taking The Test With No Panic

If a usual test informs teachers about students` progress, for most students taking a test is a cause for panic.

What are your emotions during tests? Does your heart race fast? Do you have sweaty palms? Can you remember anything when your mind freezes? Do you find it difficult to breathe during tests? If most of your answers are “Yes”, you are likely to suffer from test anxiety. How to cope with this? How to reduce the negative effect on your exams?

Impact of an anxiety during tests

According to the research, there are two types of anxiety:

  • Low level of anxiety: students usually get a little nervous about a test, but this doesn`t interfere to the thinking process. For some students, low anxiety helps even to keep the energy up during the assessment.
  • High level of anxiety: students feel most of test anxiety symptoms. They can`t concentrate on the questions. Their mind is absolutely blank. And their only thought is “I can`t do it”. In this case, a great sense of panic doesn`t give you a chance for success in this test.

Effective management with both types of anxiety helps to pass the test successfully. Coping with the physical response: sweaty palms, fast heart beating, breathlessness – can help to do your best on the test. Motivation and a psychological edge is the second part of successful examination performance. How to do this? Let`s see.

Ways to overcome test anxiety

Whatever you pass - SAT, ACT or final history test, you have to know some useful tips to overcome anxiety:

  1. Getting ready for the test or exam.

The more you prepare, the more confident you feel.

  1. Relaxing before the test and having more than 8 hours of sleep.

All night preparation before exam helps very rarely but most of the time it can cause really high anxiety level. Less preparation in the evening, adequate rest for 10 hours at night, quick revision in the morning is beneficial for passing a test.

  1. Being punctual is important.

Getting to class early gives you extra time to focus on the test. Oversleep and feeling rushed increase the anxiety before a big test.

  1. Fuel your body with highly nutritious products.

Do not skip breakfast before an important exam or test. Your food must be balanced with all necessary nutrients. Fast food isn`t appropriate because it can cause stomach ache. Porridge and some fruit are perfect to start an important day.

  1. Only positive thoughts and mental attitude!

Stop repeating “I can`t do this”, come up with the better thought “I`m prepared for the test and can do it really well”.

  1. Start the test.

Spending much time on choosing what to start with is a waste of time. Blank page increases the risk of test anxiety. So just start with the easiest part and continue with the other.

  1. Don`t pay attention to the other students in the class.

You should work at your own pace and forget about others. Stop repeating “They are writing all the time something so they know more”.

  1. Read the questions carefully.

Before making your choice read the question or directions thoroughly and don`t forget about the other options. Try not to spend all the time in the world for one question? Leave it if you can`t answer immediately. After finishing the essay, you can come back to a difficult question.

  1. Remember the time limit.

Realizing how much time left and how many questions you have to do help you to stay on pace during all the test. Try not to leave any of the questions unanswered, even guessing can be successful.

Relaxation training before your test

There are several relaxation techniques recommended by different researchers and scientists - every student should choose an appropriate method to relax before and during the test. Let`s discuss some of them.

Visualization (also known as palming)

Recommended by University of California at Berkeley


  1. This method can be performed while sitting at your desk before or during the test:
    Students close their eyes and imagine a quiet place, where you love to walk. It can be an imaginary place.
  2. To relax you should use both palms: put them gently on your eyes without touching them.

You can practice these techniques at home, a week before the test.

Feedback from students

For students with poor imagination this method isn`t very effective. Others believe that it really helps.

Deep Breathing

Recommended by Metropolitan Community College


This method is also called Deep Breathing Meditation. It`s a good way to cope with stress before an exam. The thing is that you breathe not from the upper chest but from the abdomen. So more oxygen is coming into your lungs and blood.

  1. For practicing this method, you should sit straight at the desk. Cover your chest with one hand and stomach with another.
  2. While air is coming from your nose, the hand on your chest shouldn`t move, but the hand on your stomach should rise.
  3. And on the exhale you should push as much air as you can. The hand on your stomach moves the other stays still.
  4. Continue breathing like that, counting your breath.

It`s not difficult but effective when you try to relax.

Feedback from students

Students practicing this method believe that it can really help to relax. For them it`s not difficult to breath properly.

Muscle relaxation

Recommended by Metropolitan Community College


Before practicing this method, students should consult with a doctor. It`s inappropriate for those who have a backache, problems with muscles. You can practice these techniques at home, as it`s more comfortable - you can take off confining clothes and shoes:

  1. Start with breathing in a slow manner.
  2. When you feel that you became more relaxed continue. Focus on your right foot how it feels.
  3. After that, you should tense the muscles on the right foot and count to ten.
  4. Relax your right foot and breathe slowly.
  5. Then you are ready to shift your attention to the left leg, how it feels.
  6. Tense the muscles in your left foot and count to 10.
  7. Relax both legs and you`ll see that test anxiety leaves your body.

Using the same techniques you can tense and relax the muscles in your right and left arms, neck, and shoulders.

Feedback from students

Not many students are ready to make time for this method of relaxation. Those who tried didn`t think about changing it.

Most of us know that yoga reduces stress as well as test anxiety. While practicing different types of yoga and tai chi, you can also learn how to breathe correctly, improve your flexibility, balance.

When you practice a traditional type of yoga Satyananda, you focus more on deep relaxation and meditation. It`s suitable for everybody even beginners can start their yoga lessons and very soon see the result. Hatha yoga is an excellent way to cope with stress and anxiety. It`s very popular now and suitable for the beginners. Power yoga focuses on more intensive training but can also help with relaxation.

Every person is individual, so it`s recommended to use different relaxation techniques as well as the variety of tips to reduce test anxiety. When you take exam or test, all your thoughts should be about future positive results. Become independent of undue influences and stress, pass your SAT, ACT successfully.


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