What is test anxiety? It is that sinking feeling in the pit of your stomach that you will inevitably fail– no matter what. It is the tension headache that creeps up on you as the big test draws near. It is that overwhelming "knowledge" that failing this single test will negatively impact the rest of your life.
Nursing students, here are ten tips for reducing test anxiety:
- Be prepared. Nothing conquers anxiety more than confidence. Nothing builds confidence better than preparation. But how to prepare?
- Study effectively. Many times when preparing for a test especially in nursing, a student feels overwhelmed. There is just too much information and so little time. Start studying the day you get the test date! Begin by investing some time organizing. Break the information into several subcategories and study only one block of information at each study session. Schedule manageable study sessions into each day and don't let anything deter you from your schedule! No, organizing your sock drawer or going out with friends for a quick dinner are not valid reasons to break your study schedule!
- Eat/sleep. Make sure to get a good night's sleep and have a well-balanced, light meal before you test. Junk food or energy drinks are not replacements here! Don't over eat or under sleep!
- Leave the notes at home/no time for chit-chat. You are ready. Don't create stress by attempting last minute studying. This will increase anxiety and leave you second guessing what you know! Don't study with your peers immediately prior to the test either. They may not be as prepared as you and their anxiety can rub off! You don't want that since you are ready and focused!
- Take a breather. Right before beginning the test, take three deep breaths, then go for it! As you do, think positively. Positive thoughts lead to positive results!
- Answer the ones you know first. Okay! You have confidently mastered all of the information but now look at the first questions and draw a blank! Don't worry - quickly move past any questions you are unsure of without giving them any thought. Finish the questions you know and go back to the ones you skipped last.
- It is not a race. Don't get uneasy because you are not the first or may even be the last to finish! Slow and steady wins the race. Focus on your test, not on what your peers are doing. There is usually no trophy for being the first one done!
- I can do this. As you breeze through the test, continually focus on the confidence of your answers and how well you are doing! Drown out the negative with the positive!
- No check please. When you have finished the questions you know, go back and complete the ones you skipped at first glance. Now, get up and turn in the test. Don't go back over every answer and start second guessing yourself!
- Celebrate. You prepared your best and scored your best so don't obsess over your performance. Enjoy the rest of your day and think about the fact that you are one step closer from being a nursing student to a successful nurse! Most importantly, celebrate the "A" when you get the test back.