One of the best ways to deal with test anxiety? Always have a “Plan B.” That’s according to a new article published in PYCHOLOGY TODAY . In fact, this is not a new concept. Over the years, more than 100 studies have shown that planning things out in advance, including what you’ll do in a worst case scenario, helps relieve stress in multiple situations.
So imagine the scene: You’re preparing for that crucial exam, like a College Entrance Exam, Nursing Entrance Exam or High School Entrance Exam. A lot is riding on this exam and you absolutely have to pass. But you know that you’re a terrible test-taker. You know that something always seems to go wrong to make you mess up on the exam. This is a condition beyond regular test anxiety; it is what psychologists term “high test anxiety,” a severe form of performance anxiety.
This creates real problems for you, because it makes you more prone to distraction and less able to adequately focus on the questions. The key, according to the author of the PSYCHOLOGY TODAY study: Create an “If/ Then Plan.” Example: “If I can’t remember the answer to a question, then I’ll go to the next one and come back to this one later.” Or, “If I break the lead in my pencil, then I will keep a spare pencil with me and use it.” Knowing that you have a Plan B immediately reduces the stress a bit. The study says that it’s important, though, that you think clearly about what your Plan B will be, and decide on an effective strategy. This includes study time as well as during the exam itself. For instance, “If I’m studying and my roommate turns on the music, then I will go to the library.” Or, “If I’m studying and I can’t remember the items on that list, then I will find a partner who will help me memorize the list.” Here’s the good news: PSYCHOLOGY TODAY says that Plan B’s actually work better for those students who are more anxious about their test than they do for those who are not so worried. In fact, those who considered themselves “high anxiety,” if they implemented a Plan B, solved almost 50 percent more problems than those without a Plan B because they weren’t that worried about it. So the next time you’re starting to stress about an upcoming test, think about the worst things that could happen. Then create a Plan B for every worst case scenario.
See our posts on,
Breathing Exercises for Test Anxiety and How to Handle Test Anxiety.