Let’s face it, taking tests can be a stressful and daunting experience for some. The pressure is even greater when a test, such as the SAT, plays a massive role in your college application. Feeling worried or nervous before a test is completely normal, but test anxiety will impair your performance. While one of the common causes of test anxiety is due to being under-prepared, test anxiety can still affect those who are well-prepared.
Test anxiety hinders your ability to concentrate, and in severe cases, will cause you to “blank out” during a test. Before it gets to that point, it’s important to recognize the signs of test anxiety.
- Physical symptoms: Rapid heartbeat, excessive sweating, shortness of breath, nausea and more.
- Emotional symptoms: Low self-esteem, hopelessness, feeling restless, doubt, anger and fear.
If you’re experiencing these symptoms, here are some tips on how you can overcome test anxiety.
1. Create a Plan
Before you begin, come up with a study plan. Creating a plan helps you stay organized and will give you something to work towards. Review which sections of the SAT you struggle with the most and allow yourself enough time to work on the areas that require more attention. With a plan in place, you’ll be able to stay on track and have something to refer to whenever you’re feeling overwhelmed or lost. An important thing to keep in mind – keep your schedule balanced and avoid overworking yourself!
2. Review Regularly
The best way to prepare for the SAT and reduce your test anxiety is to make sure you’re well-prepared. Instead of pulling all-nighters or cramming a week in advance, preparing ahead will give you time to familiarize yourself with the test format and type of questions you should expect. Revising regularly over a long period of time allows the material you learn to enter your long-term memory while cramming only stores information in your short-term memory, making it ineffective in the long-run.
3. Practice Deep Breathing
Sometimes, even when everything is going according to plan and you’re well-prepared, you still can’t help but feel anxious. One way to relax and calm your nerves is to practice deep breathing. Whenever you’re feeling stressed or feel like anxiety is getting the best of you, take deep, slow breaths to calm yourself. Deep breathing increases the oxygen flow in your bloodstream, which signals your brain and nervous system to calm down. Thus, breathing exercises help you relax and relieve stress. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, concentrate on your breathing and take a moment to ground yourself.
4. Stay Healthy
As the saying goes “healthy body, healthy mind”. The SAT is important, but overexerting yourself won’t do you any good. Keeping your body healthy is advantageous to both learning and memory. Not only that, it keeps you from falling sick and undermining all the effort you’ve already put in. Exercise improves blood flow to the brain while eating a balanced diet can boost your energy levels. Additionally, getting a good night’s sleep helps consolidate new information you’ve learned for the day, strengthening your memory retention. Take a break from studying and prioritize your health too!
Knowing how to deal with exam stress is only one part of the SAT preparation. Understanding the material inside out will ease your mind when taking the test. Learn more about the strategies to achieve the perfect SAT score by signing up for SAT prep classes at IvyPrep.