Managing Test Anxiety

Here at Tutor Doctor WNY, we work with a lot of clients who are trying to improve their score on a test. Although improving a test score may seem as basic as beefing up knowledge of the content on a test, we’ve found that content knowledge is just one piece, albeit a large piece, of the puzzle. Whether it’s for the SAT, the ASVAB, or a chemistry final, learning test anxiety management skills have helped many of our students to perform better. So here are some of the things our tutors tell our students about test anxiety, and hopefully they can help you do better on tests too!

Don't let test anxiety ruin your test scores! (Image Credit:

Know Your Stuff

Most of the legwork to overcome test anxiety is completed before you even enter the testing facility. To help yourself feel less uptight about what’s coming, do everything you can to familiarize yourself with the test and the conditions under which you’ll be taking it. The best way to do this is to take practice tests, or at least look at the formatting of a previous exam. Some test anxiety may be based around uncertainty about what exactly the test will entail, and by getting a preview of what’s coming you’ll help to lessen that anxiety. There are plenty of books and websites that offer sample exams in just about every area for standardized testing. If your test isn’t standardized, talk to your teacher, professor, or TA and ask about what the format might look like if they haven’t already provided that information. Will there be multiple-choice questions? An essay? Also, think back to previous tests that you’ve taken for that teacher. Chances are, the next one will be pretty similar to earlier exams.

Preparation is Key

On the morning of a big test, you don’t want to be running frantically around your house looking for number two pencils. Take some of your nervous energy the evening before and put together everything you need ready to go at a spot near the door. Pencils, erasers, and a bottle of water are usually a good place to start. Make sure you know what you’ll need for the test in advance, and also what will be allowed and not allowed into the testing area. You don’t want to add to your stress by realizing you’ve brought something that isn’t allowed in the room, or worse: that you’ve forgotten something you need to take the test.

Sleep it Off

Test anxiety can make sleeping almost impossible, but it will help you perform better. After dinner, try going for a long walk around the neighborhood or doing another physical activity that will help to tire you out. Then, try doing something relaxing, such as taking a bath or watching a funny TV show. Do whatever it takes to try and get some sleep, because without it your anxiety will be through the roof.

Use What You’ve Got

If you’ve practiced taking the exam or worked with a tutor, remember some of the test-taking tips they gave you. How will you pace yourself? What order will you do the questions in? All of these familiar little routines will hopefully put you in the test-taking zone and help you relax considerably.

Deeeep Breaths

Relaxation techniques, such as deep breathing, closing your eyes, visualization, or anything else you can think of, can be a benefit while in a stressful exam situation.  Don’t spend too much time on these techniques, but realize that if you rush ahead with your anxiety at a high you’ll probably suffer in the long run. It’s better to take a minute to relax than race ahead and make silly mistakes.

If you or someone you know suffers from test anxiety, Tutor Doctor can help. Call us for a free consultation and see what we can offer you today!



Filed under Academic Advice

2 responses to “Managing Test Anxiety

  1. Thanks for reading my blog! I think I saw a flier for your services in Boulder, CO. Is that possible? Have you read about my anxiety dreams?

    • Your welcome. Some great thoughts you put out there! Thanks for being a bit crazy. I did just check out bits of your anxiety dreams. Thanks for sharing them. There is a Tutor Doctor in Denver but I’m not sure of Boulder.

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