Tests Have You stressed out? Fear Not! Test Taking Tips To Limit Anxiety.

LRJ Foundation, Testing Anxiety Tips.

The spring semester has kicked off for everyone and our minds are going a mile a minute. Midterms are here and finals will follow. Testing anxiety will be its own train in motion and full speed ahead in both scenarios. Testing anxiety is a topic a lot of people do not understand because they’re so many myths surrounding it. The most common myth is that testing anxiety results from being unfamiliar with the material. However, just because a person does not do well on a test, does not mean they did not know the material. The following list contains common mishaps that occur when trying to take a test.


  1. You do the homework, study effectively, and participate in class, but during test time, your mind goes blank. 
  2. If you’re an overthinker, you skip over the main idea of a question, but unnecessarily emphasize words that are irrelevant to what the question is asking.
  3. You change your answers over and over again because in your mind, you can rationalize why each possible wrong answer could be correct. 
  4. You write extra notes to your teacher explaining how you’re wrong and apologizing for your “poor performance. 

Fear not! Here are some test taking strategies to help bust up that anxiety…


When in doubt, take several deep breaths before starting a test. Do as much as you can to calm down. This helps because when we become overstimulated with emotion, our body makes more endorphins and hormones that flood our brain. This makes it harder to think rationally, process information, and/or recall facts and numbers that we may have studied the night before. The only way to communicate to yourself that you’re not under threat and have no reason to launch into fight or flight mode is to breathe–slowly and deeply. As you’re doing this, look around the room, try to notice three things that have a similar color, smell the air, and also identify sounds. This is to help you stay within your body, and refrain from freaking out.

Dressing for success

Dressing up for tests beyond the comfortable clothes you would typically wear allows you to more effectively recall the information. This is also known as “enclothed cognition” which can increase a student’s attention. Full articles below:


Find a multiple choice strategy that works

If you’ve eliminated at least two answer choices and are left with two that “sound” correct, choose the best answer by asking yourself “Which one is closest to what I read in my book, studied, or that was covered in class?” Other tips include, the question in the wording points to the right answer, grammatical cues in a fill-in-the-blank align and make sense as a whole sentence, and longer answers are often the correct ones because they contain more details.

Skip the question

If you can’t immediately remember an answer, skip it, and come back to it later. More time is wasted re-reading a question over and over again, attempting to force recall of something that could or could not be true, and then becoming frustrated over it. Before you know it, it will be time to turn in the test, and you may be no closer to having remembered the answer. Plus, your frustration will set the tone for the rest of the test and may even guarantee an unsuccessful outcome. We feel more confident when we are able to answer questions that we know. Skipping a question, gives you the opportunity to demonstrate what you do know on a test, and it may help you to remember any forgotten information for previous questions.

Read it, and then read it again

So yeah, we just finished telling you NOT to re-read a question over and over again. You definitely shouldn’t do that. Do this instead–after you’ve taken several deep breaths and used your senses to feel fully connected with your body, pick up the test, and read it all the way through without actually filling in any answers. Read it slowly and look at every page both front and back to familiarize yourself with the content of the test. Read the questions, and read the answers–slowly. Don’t forget to continue breathing while doing this. After you finish, begin the test and mark the answers. Another alternative is to read the test first and circle questions you do not know the answer to immediately. Then when you read and take the test for real, you can respond to all of the questions that you do know, and skip the ones that you don’t. When you return to answer the circled questions, you may have more time, be in a better state of mind, and feel more confident and comfortable with exploring each answer and thinking through it.

Trust Your Gut

One of the best, but sometimes most troubling strategies is to go with your gut. This is easier said than done. However, go with your first and best guess because usually, it is the correct one. Do not change your answers after you have marked them unless you know for certain that the chosen response is wrong. In that case, the best way to determine efficacy is to finish taking the test. The answer may be in a different question or reading more questions may stimulate perfect recall of the right answer for a past question.

Good luck…you can do this! 

Created by, Team member, Emily Carlson- Creative Education Producer
Editor: Martina Watson, LPC, Director of Operations


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