Test Tactics: Mental Preparation
Because tests tend to have a high degree of importance in how well you score in a class, it is understandable that taking tests can create a great deal of anxiety for many students. Even students who know they have learned all of the required material for the test find their minds going blank as they stare at the test. One of the easiest ways to overcome that anxiety is to prepare mentally for the test.
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Mental Preparation Techniques
Mentally preparing for an exam is not as difficult as it may sound. There are simple techniques that any student can use to ensure they are ready for the test when it is time to take it.
Do not procrastinate.
Study the material for the test when it becomes available, and continue to review the material up until the test day. By waiting until the last minute and trying to cram for the test the night before, you actually increase the amount of anxiety you feel. This leads to an increase in negative self-talk, such as I can’t learn this. I’m going to fail, which decreases your performance on the test. How to handle Procrastination
The use of positive self-talk serves both to drown out negative self-talk and to increase your confidence in your abilities. Whenever you begin feeling overwhelmed or anxious about the test, tell yourself that you know the material and that you can pass the test. Use only positive words. Examples: I am smart. I will do well on this test. I have studied. I know the material. The thing to remember about negative self talk is, 1) we all have it, and 2) Why listen? It’s your fantasy, so if you can’t be a winner and positive in your own fantasy, what are you doing?
Do not compare yourself to other students, or compare your performance to theirs. Rather than worrying about how others will do or whether they think it is difficult, focus on your worries and your abilities. Regardless of how others perform, your performance is the only one that matters for your grade. Comparing yourself to others increase your anxiety and your level of negative self-talk before the test.
Picture yourself taking the test and knowing the answers. Visualize yourself doing well on the test and having no problems with the material. Visualizations of you succeeding will increase your confidence in your abilities, which decreases the anxiety you feel before the test. Instead of thinking of this as a test, think of it as an opportunity to show what you know and what you have learned.
Avoid negative classmates.
Worry is contagious. Even if you are relaxed and confident, being around anxious, worried classmates will cause you to start feeling anxious. Before the test, avoid listening to the fears of friends and classmates.
Feeling anxious and worried before an exam is normal, and every student experiences those feelings at some point. The problem with anxiety arises when it interferes with your ability to take the exam and perform well. Practicing mental preparation techniques and remembering that the test is not the only measure of your academic performance will ease your anxiety and ensure that you perform at your best.