2 Techniques to Battle Test Anxiety in High School & College
Test Anxiety is very common among high school and college students and a topic I often discuss with clients as they face exams throughout the school year. If you are one of the many people who feels anxious right before an exam even when you have studied, here are a two things you can try immediately before an exam:
There are many different techniques out there and if you google “calming breathing techniques” you’ll find a plethora of articles put out on the web by the Mindfulness and Meditation community. The important thing is simply to bring attention to your breath in a nonjudgmental way. Simply notice what your breath feels like in this moment. As your mind wanders back to the upcoming test (or perhaps even the test sitting on the desk in front of you), gently let go of those thoughts and return to an awareness of your breathe. Notice where the sensations are the strongest. The tip of your nose? Your belly rising and falling? Next simply try to slowly inhale a little deeper, pause at the top of the breath and make your exhale even slower than the inhale. By mindfully focusing on your breathing, your mind will start to relax. When you slow the breath and bring air deeper into your lungs, your body too will calm and you’ll be able to better access the information you have learned.
Positive Self Talk
My dad, a great public speaker, used to get nervous before he’d speak to a crowd. Nobody ever knew about his nerves though, because he appeared so confident! What was his secret? He was his own best cheerleader! Before a big speech, my dad would go into the men’s room, look himself in the mirror and confidently say, “It’s going to be ok! It’s going to be alright!” This positive self talk helped him overcome his anxiety. When experiencing test anxiety, you’re likely thinking, “I’m going to fail this test,” “I didn’t study hard enough,” or “I’m not very good at taking tests.” These thoughts are only going to make your test anxiety worse making it difficult to focus. By noticing that negative self talk and changing those statements to, “I’ve studied hard and know the material,” “I will do my best,” or “I’ve got this,” your anxiety can begin to decrease, you’ll stop catastrophizing and you can focus on acing your exam!