Conquering Test Anxiety Checklist


Before the Test

  • Expect some anxiety before and during the test—it’s perfectly normal.

    • Your goal should not be to eliminate all test anxiety, but rather to reduce it and then to channel what’s left to work with you rather than against you.

  • Begin studying early—even if it is just a little bit at a time. Don’t procrastinate.

    • Cramming the night before is not as effective as studying over time. Spending 10-12 hours cramming the day before is not as effective as even spreading out that same amount of time over a week or two.

    • Begin studying early enough so you don’t even have to study the night before.

  • Exercise the day before your test.

    • Exercise revitalizes your mind and helps you to sleep better.

    • Exercise also boosts your confidence and helps your test performance.

  • Have a full and healthy dinner and breakfast before the test.

    • Your mind and body require fuel in order to perform to the best of their abilities.

  • Get a full night’s sleep the night before your test.

    • Getting enough sleep reduces anxiety and allows your mind to work at top form.


During the Test

  • Take for granted that you are going to have at least some anxiety.

    • If you expect to have anxiety, dealing with it is easier and you usually have less anxiety than you’d expect if you have already accepted that it is going to happen.

    • Know that everyone else around you is most likely also experiencing some level of anxiety even if they are not showing it.

    • Try not to focus on your anxious feelings: accept that they’re there and focus on the test one question at a time.

  • No matter how much you study, do not expect to know the answer to every question and accept that you won’t. Your goal is not to do perfect but to improve and simply pass the test.

  • Don’t think about how many questions you have left: only concentrate on one question at a time.

    • If you are taking a timed test, don’t look at the clock after every question. Checking the clock constantly will only increase your anxiety. Resolve only to check the clock after every 5 questions or so.

  • When you don’t know the answer to a question, mark the question and move on to the next. Come back to those questions that you marked after you have answered the questions you do know (some of the other questions that you do know might give you a clue to the answers of those you don’t).

    • You can use the plus and minus (+ and -) system if it helps: mark the questions you have no clue about with a minus symbol (–) and the ones that you think you might know with a plus (+).

      • When you return to the questions that you skipped, start with the plusses.

  • Use the process of deduction: cross out the answers you know are not right and make an educated guess based on what’s left. If all else fails, go with your gut instinct.

  • Do not leave any question blank—a guess is better than nothing.

    • Even with short answer or essay questions, writing something—even if you do not think it makes sense—is better than nothing. If you do not get the question completely right, you may still get partial credit—which could make all the difference.

  • Don’t care if everyone else finishes the test before you—ignore everyone else’s progress.

    • The best test takers usually finish the test last (because even if they answer all the questions with time left, they use that extra time to double-check them).

  • Remember that a test is just a test—it does not define who you are as a person. If you do not do as well as you would like to, your life isn’t over. In most cases you can regroup and try again. Most of the time the worst case scenario is never worth the amount of anxiety we spend worrying over it.


After the Test

  • Reward Yourself—go out to eat, see a movie, or do whatever you like to do on special occasions.

  • After rewarding yourself, reflect upon which of the above methods helped alleviate your anxiety and write them down so you can use them again in the future.


Copyright © 2016 Joshua Commander. All Rights Reserved.