Successful Strategies for Test Anxiety

Too much anxiety can become a problem if it interferes with your performance on tests. Learn strategies for dealing with test anxiety.We all experience some level of anxiety before a test. A little nervousness can actually help motivate us to perform our best. Too much anxiety can become a problem if it interferes with your performance on tests. Some strategies for dealing with test anxiety:

  • Be prepared. Study the material in advance; do not leave cramming for the day before your test. Do not do a last minute review.
  • Get plenty of sleep, it is hard to function at your best when overtired.
  • Avoid any use of drugs and alcohol, they can interfere with your mental ability.
  • Exercise may increase your alertness and sharpen your mind.
  • Have a moderate breakfast, fresh fruits and vegetables help reduce stress; avoid caffeine, sugar and junk foods.
  • Allow yourself plenty of time; arrive at the test location early.
  • Choose a seat where you will not be easily distracted.
  • Use abdominal breathing to help reduce anxiety. Place one hand on your abdomen, right beneath your rib cage. Inhale through your nose and feel your abdomen fill like a balloon. Count to three on your inhalation and then slowly exhale counting to four, feeling your abdomen contracting with the exhalation.
  • Do a reality check, how important is this exam in the grand scheme of things. Put it in perspective.
  • Use positive affirmations, say a phrase to help keep things in perspective. "I've done this before, I can do it again" or "I have all the knowledge I need to get this done."

During the test take a few minutes to:

  • Review the entire test. Read the directions carefully.
  • Work on the easiest portions of the test first.
  • Pace yourself. Do not rush through the test.
  • If you go blank, skip the question and go on.
  • Multiple choice questions, read all the options first, eliminate the most obvious.
  • Essay questions, make a short outline. Begin and end with a summary sentence.
  • Take short breaks, tense and relax your muscles throughout your body.
  • Pause, do a few abdominal breaths, say your affirmation.
  • Stay in the present moment.
  • There is no reward for being the first done.

After the test, reward yourself:

  • Try not to dwell on your mistakes.
  • Indulge in something relaxing for awhile.

If these test taking anxiety strategies do not work for you, visit your school counselor or other health care professional.


  • Freedom From Fear website

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APA Reference
Tracy, N. (2007, February 23). Successful Strategies for Test Anxiety, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, July 16 from

Last Updated: July 4, 2016

Medically reviewed by Harry Croft, MD

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