How to battle test anxiety on standardised tests.

Test anxiety is the most common factor delibilitating students on test day. A bit of anxiety is good, it keeps you focused and makes sure you don’t get complacent and careless while testing. But for some students it’s much more. Racing thoughts, unability to focus, upset stomach and many such physical and mental symptoms. This singular issue can derail your entire process, your efforts of the past few months and can psychologically affect how you perceive testing in general.
I have over the years noticed that in the weeks leading up to the actual test day, I am not only dealing with test doubts but also with the nervousness of the student, about the fear of testing and about the fear of failure. I have over time helped students with various ways and techniques to overcome this anxiety. Here I have listed what I feel are some important factors to consider when you are getting ready for a standardised test.

Before the test –

  1. Standardised tests by their definition mean predictable, tests which have a fixed format, have a pre determined syllabus and scoring system. It is imperative that you have a thorough understanding of the format and are well versed with the syllabus and concepts.
  2. Take a good amount of practice tests. This not only helps you understand your weak areas but also helps in getting you geared up for the final day. It’s important that you try and do the practice tests in the same time slot of the day as your actual test. This helps in getting your body clock in tune with the test day.
  3. Eat well in the weeks prior to test day, we underestimate the influence of healthy food on our mental make up.
  4. Sleep for at least 8 hours the night before test day, a well rested mind is a mind able to think clearly and calmly.
  5. Always go for the test expecting to be surprised. Whatever your test day strategy, keep it flexible. A student going in with a very rigid strategy will get thrown off by the slightest of things, like a slightly tougher question or a question framed differently.`

During the test-

  1. Reach your test centre at least half an hour before the test time, it helps your acclimatise with your surroundings and you don’t feel rushed right at the beginning.
  2. Don’t worry if you are unable to answer all the questions. You do not have to answer them all to get a good score, what is important is you knowing which questions to skip and which to spend time on. If after two readings you are unable to figure how to do the question, move on. Breaking your head over such a question never makes sense as you will eventually always get it wrong but you would have spent precious time on it.
  3. In the break between sections, eat your favourite candy bar. The feeling of well being as well as that slight sugar rush helps you combat the mental and physical fatigue which may begin to set in.
  4. Keep your working/rough work clean and organised. Use your rough sheets wisely. Do not try and memorise everything, do not try and do calculations/workings mentally. Put it all down on paper. The less chaotic your brain, the better it will work and the calmer you will feel.
  5. If you feel anxiety setting in, shut your eyes for a bit and try and calm yourself. Even the smallest of breaks will help you focus and regroup your thoughts.

Most important, no score can define you. A test score is not a final judgement on you or your ability. All standardised tests allow you to take multiple attempts if you are unhappy with your score. If you have a bad day, you have the ability to test again.


About sonyamuthalia

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