Use Good Study Habits – Preparation is the key element in reducing test anxiety. The better prepared you are for your exam, the lower your level of anxiety. Being well prepared for a test can also increase your self-confidence.
- Create a Schedule: Give yourself enough time to study for the test. Use a printed calendar (see attached) or app to plan out your days leading up to the test. When creating a schedule, put in all activities starting with priorities, like school, sports, or family commitments. Figure out how much time you need to study for each test. Make sure to schedule in breaks, meals, and enough time to sleep. Remember to keep the schedule a little flexible; the schedule should not be an additional stressor.
- Have a Good Place to Study: Create a quiet, neat study area. Distractions and clutter interfere with studying. Select a quiet spot where you are unlikely to be interrupted and organize it so that you can study efficiently. If space is cramped at home use a corner of the local library or other suitable spot as your “study haven.”
- Take Breaks: Frequent breaks are believed to increase mental sharpness. The “Pomodoro Technique” is a time management method developed by Francesco Cirillo to maximize mental sharpness. Work for 25 minutes, then take a 3-5 minute break, work for 25 minutes, take a 5 minute break. After 3 or 4 25-minute work sessions, take a longer break (15-30 minutes). (tomato-timer.com)
- No Cramming: It is not a good idea to try to cram weeks of information into your head the night before the test. This is usually a time when you are feeling anxious and you may feel guilty for studying at the last minute. These feelings will make it difficult to concentrate. Some students say that they do worse on a test when they study weeks ahead of time, but years of research do not agree with this statement. Studying under pressure is generally ineffective and can easily create unnecessary anxiety. Spreading out testing over several days is more effective so that you can just review and quiz yourself the day or two before the exam.
Practice Self Care – Keep in mind that you are more than a test taker. Students concerned about tests usually neglect other aspects of themselves. Do not forget that taking a test is only one of the important things in your life. You should also care about your biological, emotional, psychological, and social needs.
- Balanced Sleep: Get a good night’s sleep the night of the test and the nights leading up to the test. Try to get the amount of sleep that helps you feel good.
- Balanced Eating: Don’t go to the exam with an empty stomach. Fresh fruits and vegetables are often recommended to reduce stress. Stressful foods can include processed foods, artificial sweeteners, carbonated soft drinks, fried foods, and foods containing preservatives or heavy spices. Don’t eat too much or too little, and stay away from foods that make you feel overly emotional (e.g., too much coffee can mimic the symptoms of anxiety)
- Get Exercise: Keeping a regular exercise routine helps reduce vulnerability to negative emotions.
- Avoid Mood Altering Drugs: Stay away from non-prescribed drugs and alcohol.
- Avoid Negative Self Statements: Practice positive self-talk. Think of yourself in a positive way (e.g., I will learn this information, I have prepared so I can expect to do well”). Politely avoid classmates who produce anxiety or affect your mood to the test. Stay away from people talking about the test is a dramatic way, and avoid people who haven’t prepared for the test.
Homework/Study Tips: http://homeworktips.about.com
Smart But Scattered Teens, Guare and Dawson