Reducing Test Anxiety

Some Exercises and Tips from Geoffrey TJ Mathews, MSc, RCC

Reducing Test Anxiety What is Test Anxiety? It’s excessive worrying about upcoming exams and even fear of being evaluated. When thinking about the exam you might not know you’re clenching your muscles. This tension can give you headaches, nausea and you might start feel so overwhelmed during the exam that you can’t concentrate. These strategies are meant to help you relax and re-concentrate when you are worrying about your exams.

Exercise 1 – Relaxing Your Muscles

This first technique can be used when you’re writing an exam or anytime you have a few minutes to sit down.

Step 1: Close your eyes. Tense every muscle in your body, starting with the neck and moving down to the shoulders, arms, stomach, legs, and feet. Inhale as each muscle is contracted, and hold your breath for a few seconds; then slowly exhale and release.

Step 2: Close your eyes tight and clench your teeth; feel the pressure mount. Hold for 5 seconds. Open your eyes and relax.

Repeat right after if your body is still feeling tense. Try this at anytime before or during the exam to relax your body and refocus.

Exercise 2: Controlling Your Breathing 

Step 1: Sit with your back straight and your hands resting comfortably in your lap. To help block out distraction, try closing your eyes.

Step 2: Inhale slowly, smoothly and deeply through your nose for 5 seconds. Hold your breath in your lungs for 5 seconds. Slowly exhale through your mouth for 5 seconds. As you exhale, try to let go of all your anxiety, tension & stress. Pause for 5 seconds before repeating.

Do 10-12 rounds, which will only take 3-4 minutes. You can use this whenever you feel anxious. You can use it anywhere; on a bus, in a line, before and during a test.

Exercise 3: Taking a Break

When you’re stressed you can’t think clearly. That’s the time when you lose concentration and make mistakes. If you’re at home and you’re too stressed try getting a glass of water, go watch TV for a little bit or check your email. If you’re at school, go to the bathroom and splash some water on your face. This will give your brain a chance to think about something else so you can re-concentrate when you get back to studying or taking the test.

If you’re at home and have the chance, it’s a great idea to do something physical. If you go for a jog or lift some weights you’ll start to burn off that excess stress energy that you have built up.

Without even realizing it you’ll begin to cool down and relax to the point where your body and mind feel much better.

Reducing Test Anxiety Tips

1. Relax your body with the muscles and breathing exercises

2. Focus on yourself and not other students

3. Think positively and reward yourself everyday

4. Exercise or do something fun to burn off extra energy

5. Get a good night's sleep, all-nighters don’t help