“If something is wrong, fix it if you can. But train your brain not to worry. Worry never fixes anything.”
- Mary Hemingway
Preventing and decreasing stress are based on these two fundamentals:
- practical, effective academic habits
- the willingness or initiative to get any support you might need
While these lay the groundwork for academic success, there are also simple techniques that help you calmly manage whatever craziness might come at you... not only in your school years, but for the rest of your life - because stress is a normal part of life. As artist Inspectah Deck once said, "It’s gotta be accepted…that life is hectic.” Now you can accept it and then use it to become stronger and wiser. Having healthy and solid coping mechanisms makes life a lot more enjoyable.
(Note: developing stress management skills takes practice and patience, so be easy on yourself and take it one change at a time)
How to Deal with Test Anxiety
Stress is normal when taking a test, and so is a bit of anxiety. When the anxiety affects your performance, however, it's important to address it head-on. Below are a few suggestions on how to reduce that anxiety. *If you feel your anxiety is out of control and want help, click here.*
Quick Tips for Banishing Test Anxiety
- Being (and feeling) prepared for a test is the ultimate way to prevent test anxiety. Start early and use good academic habits found here, as well as any educational opportunities and resources you have available
- Sleep at least 8 hours the night before the exam - and the night before that! Researchers say that this is crucial for having the information you studied seep into your brain.
- This is an obvious one - don't wait til the last minute and cram! To avoid cramming, see the first item on this list.
- Once you're actually taking the exam, take a deep breath and, if you prepared, allow yourself to feel confident.
- If you didn't prepare, since you can't do anything about that now, just do the best you can - and use this experience as motivation to get your time management and study habits on track. Don't waste time beating yourself up, focus on what you CAN get right on the exam. "Don't let what you cannot do interfere with what you can" - Coach John Wooden
- Any time your brain wanders into worries about the grade, bring it back to the present moment - look at exactly what is in front of you, let all your attention be on the next action you have to take - and that's it! You can only do one thing at a time - similarly, your brain can only concentrate FULLY on one thing at a time! So if you're focusing on what you're doing on the test in detail, your brain won't be able to start making up stories about what the grade will be.
- Take it easy on yourself. Even if you get a 4 on a test (yes - out of 100), you can use it as a learning experience of what not to do next time... Like Paul Romer said: "A crisis is a terrible thing to waste".