What Can You Do about Test Anxiety?


Student Dialog - What to Do about Test Anxiety?

Brian and Jose in a cafeteria.

Brian: I've got a test next week and I'm scared!

Jose: Why are you scared? Haven't you studied for it?

Brian: Of course I've studied, especially during the last few days. The test is in English, the course I failed last semester. Last night I couldn't even sleep.

Jose: Brian, it sounds like you're scared because you failed the course last semester and so you think you're going to fail it again this semester.

Brian: Yeah, I guess that's it . . .

Jose: A lot of students suffer from test anxiety at some point. I know some things you can do that might help. Would you like to work on them?

Brian with a concerned look on his face. Brian: That'd be great!

Jose: When I get anxious about a test, I try to figure out why I'm worried. For me, feeling like I'm prepared is the key. If I don't feel prepared, then I get worried.

Brian: But I've been studying, and I'm still worried.

Jose: Tell me about how and when you've been studying for this exam.

Brian: Well, I started making study notes a couple of weeks ago. Once I finished compiling them, I started studying . . . probably last week.

Jose: So...you really started studying for your final about 3 weeks in advance?

Brian: Yeah, I guess so. But I did take notes in class and read before class.

Jose: Lack of preparation is one of the main causes of text anxiety. It's not enough to study, you need to develop good study habits, too.

Brian: I see. So you're saying I need a study strategy.

Jose smiling.


Jose: Exactly! And you need to make sure you are managing and organizing your time! Make sure you stick to whatever schedule you create.

Brian: Ok, I'm understanding this now. So my study strategy should include scheduling time for studying. What else should I do to avoid feeling anxious at test time?

Jose: Well, you've got to take care of yourself, too. Sometimes I get so busy, I forget to eat. It's important to eat right, get enough sleep, and take a break for yourself! When I get anxious, I practice some relaxation techniques.

Brian: Really? Like what?

Jose: Like breathing slowly and deeply for a few minutes. This helps me calm down and clear my head.

Brian: That sounds like a good one, Jose. I'll give it a try. One technique I use is to keep "negative" thoughts about the test out of my head. I tell myself I'm going to pass the test and if I don't pass this one, I'll do better next time. Sounds silly I know, but it works for me.

Jose: I like that one, Brian.