Exam Anxiety Psych Up For Better Test-Taking.
Do you have a system for defeating
exam anxiety? Do you know how to prepare mentally to be at your
best for a test? Discover what exam anxiety is, what causes it and
how it affects you. Read 10 mental readiness strategies that will
help catapult your mind into the "ideal test-taking zone" no matter
how much pressure you feel to perform. You'll learn how to conquer
the performance anxiety that sabotages your exam abilities by creating
a winning mind set that can't be beat.
How To Beat Exam Anxiety
Psych Up For Better Test-Taking
Bill Cole, MS, MA
Founder and CEO
William B. Cole Consultants
Silicon Valley, California
I meet very few people who enjoy taking exams.
Even the very best students find test-taking stressful. No matter
how well-prepared you are, stress still creeps into the process.
How about you? How well do you handle the pressures of test-taking?
Do you know how to prepare mentally? How to relax when it counts
most? How to keep your mind clear and crisp under pressure?
This article will help you develop mental readiness strategies so
you can prepare with confidence for any oral or written exam situation.
The Facts About Exam Anxiety
It's reassuring and powerful to realize these
essential truths about what scares you. The first step to getting
this fear response under your control is to demystify it.
- Exam anxiety is normal. If you're human, you're going to get
- Exam anxiety hits everyone, even the most experienced test-takers,
at every level.
- You will never completely conquer exam anxiety yet you can
- The more mind tools you have to beat exam anxiety, the better
you will perform.
- Top performers turn in wonderful performances all the time
even though they are suffering from exam anxiety during
the actual test.
- Beating exam anxiety is not about being perfect or about being
fear-free. It's about adjusting and managing your anxiety and
using it to fuel your performances.
What Causes Exam Anxiety?
If you are ill-prepared for your exam, you will
be nervous. Very nervous. Guess what? You SHOULD be nervous. Why?
You're NOT READY. But I don't think that's you, or you wouldn't
be reading this.
Even folks who are well-prepared can still get quite nervous before
an exam. That's normal. The results of an exam can be quite important,
so that's why we feel so much stress. There's a lot riding on the
How Stress Happens
- Your body's chemistry kicks in to get you ready to perform.
- You may inaccurately misinterpret those feelings that you are
- You mistakenly believe nerves to be "bad".
- You then worry that this is proof that you are about to fail
and embarrass yourself.
- You then worry about worrying.
- The negative cycle continues.
- You selectively choose further nervousness proof that you are
panicking and about to fail.
- All these symptoms combine to ignite a full-blown attack of
nerves. Bingo. You have a bad case of exam anxiety.
Ten Ways To Psych Up To Test Better
People don't plan to fail...they just fail to
plan. Powerful performances must provide perceptive pre-performance
procedures so poor performance is precluded! Here are some pre-performance
exam strategies that should help you keep away the test-taking stress
Before your next exam, consider preparing your mind in these special
- Practice your exam performance the morning of the "show". Not
the whole thing, but a bits and pieces. This is your warm-up and
will help you begin to focus on the performance.
- Have some sort of pre-event routine that will prepare you mentally,
emotionally and physically. Even NOT having a traditional routine
is fine (goofing off, not paying attention to the upcoming event)
as long as you realize that this works for you.
- Custom planning is the key. You need a routine that will work
specifically for you, not one that your test-taking buddies do.
Experiment to find the one that meets your needs.
- What are your needs? You want a routine that focuses you, helps
you contain anxiety, energizes you with positive energy, psyches
you up mentally so you expect to do well and helps you make a
gradual transition into your performance state.
- The performance state is a special consciousness that is different
from our normal day-to-day existence. We need to enter that state
well before the exam begins. Just arriving at the exam and then
rushing on will not do it. A gradual leaving behind of our normal
day and a slow immersion into our "testing head" is required.
- Your pre-exam routine is very much a ritual. You need to have
a series of steps in the routine that you do each time before
a test. Over time, this ritual begins to feel comfortable, normal
and will work for you. It's a security blanket for your confidence.
- It's important to maintain the same ritual in the same order
each time you prepare. It's this sameness that kicks off your
psych-up energy and automatically helps you focus, relax and energize.
- The ritual you design should be no shorter than 10 minutes,
but no longer than 30 minutes or so. Any shorter and the effect
is not as powerful, and any longer and you may not be able to
find the time or space to execute it. The best rituals are done
quickly and require no special equipment or place.
- Check any equipment you will be using. Make sure everything
is in order. Do a final check. Make sure all physical things are
under control as much as possible. This frees your mind of worry.
- Close your eyes, breathe deeply and relax your muscles. Do
this for five minutes. Then think back to a time when you aced
an exam and scored extremely well. That was you in the zone. Recapture
the feelings of that zone experience by recalling how your mind
was clear, your emotions were calm, your muscles were relaxed
and your motivation to succeed was high.
This will start you on the journey to the perfect
pre-performance exam routine. I wish you the best of luck in your
march to test-taking peak performance.
Knowing about educational psychology and being test savvy
is certainly an important part of being a good student, but top students who
get consistently high grades also have a knowledge base and applied skills in
stress control and peak performance. You need to know how to manage your mind,
calm your emotions and relax your body so you can get into the “test zone”,
that powerful, deeply focused mind-body state that gives you excellent recall,
mental alertness and clarity. You need to learn these skills and become mentally
tough so you can handle the extreme pressures of academia. Other mental skills
training you need are visualization, confidence-building, mental readiness training
and motivation skills.
To learn this set of mental toughness, zone, and stress control skills, sign up for our special Test Anxiety Stress Reduction Program. You can also take this no-cost assessment of your test-taking skills.
Copyright © 2011-
Bill Cole, MS, MA. All rights reserved.
Bill Cole, MS, MA, a leading authority
on peak performance, mental toughness and coaching, is founder and
CEO of William B. Cole Consultants, a consulting firm that helps
organizations and professionals achieve more success in business,
life and sports. He is also the Founder and President of the International
Mental Game Coaching Association (www.mentalgamecoaching.com),
an organization dedicated to advancing the research, development,
professionalism and growth of mental game coaching worldwide. He
is a multiple Hall-Of-Fame honoree as an athlete, coach and school
alumnus, an award-winning scholar-athlete, published book author
and articles author, and has coached at the highest levels of major-league
pro sports, big-time college athletics and corporate America. For
a free, extensive article archive, or for questions and comments
visit him at www.MentalGameCoach.com.
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