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25 Practical Ways to Reduce Test Anxiety

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You seem to have javascript disabled. Please note that many of the page functionalities won't work as expected without javascript enabled. Volume 12, Issue 6. No citations found yet 0. Create a SciFeed alert for new publications With following keywords outdoor time. By following authors Casey Gray. Ellen Beate Hansen Sandseter.

One email with all search results. One email for each search. Public Health , 12 6 , ; https: Many studies were excluded for multiple reasons. Adapted from Moher, D. Researchers have found that taking 10 minutes to write expressively about your anxiety and how it affects you can help reduce test anxiety and boost performance on tests.

Reframe the physical symptoms in a more positive light: Researchers have found that telling students that physiological responses often associated with anxious reactions e. Build upon small successes: The key to building your competency beliefs and creating future success is to have mastery experiences. Focus on your actions and behaviors and the connection between those behaviors and positive outcomes.

You can build upon your smaller successes to enable the greater ones. Focus on your self-talk and inner dialogue: Anxiety is sustained by inner dialogue. Our self-messaging is fundamental. When your inner critic is serving up a plate of harsh self-criticisms, consider this as simply another mental activity for you to notice, rather than as something fundamental about you. Be very careful about reinforcing negative self-beliefs. That thought can eventually become a thing, an obstacle, that will affect how hard you try when you encounter a challenging problem or test-section.

Never make global, self-limiting statements to yourself or to others. Practice self-kindness and compassion with your self-talk. It makes a difference. Externalize the Anxiety Monster: I knew you were going to show up here! But you need to leave for a while.

We can talk later. Creating some cognitive distance from the anxious thoughts allows you to achieve a measure of control over them. Imagined practice makes perfect: If you have had many experiences of anxiety during tests, it may help to visualize yourself taking a test without suffering the effects of anxiety. Athletes do it all the time, imagining themselves performing at their peak level, in advance of the high-stakes event.

Imagine yourself walking through the test, missing problems and staying calm and centered: Lay down a new template of you as a peak-tester, and make the images as vivid and sensorily rich as possible, so your mind believes them.

Imagined practice can be as powerful as actual practice. Breathing from the diaphragm, in a slow measured way, filling the stomach then the chest, stimulates the vagus nerve, which controls the parasympathetic calming nervous system. Stimulating the vagus nerve leads to a decrease in heart rate, blood pressure and other sympathetic responses. Practice breathing deeply and consciously, multiple times per day, and this technique will be available to you on test day.

Imagine you are breathing into your heart center: This is a technique I learned from an organization called Heartmath. The act of combining slow breathing, a nurturing gesture, and redirecting my consciousness to my heart, helps restore a sense of calm. This is a simple technique to employ for a few breaths during a test. Use the body to help ground anxiety: Exercise is a natural anxiety reliever. Research shows that as little as 30 minutes of exercise three to five times a week can provide significant anxiety relief.

Exercise is protective in that it boosts endorphins and neurotransmitters such as dopamine and serotonin, which may reduce symptoms of depression and elevate mood; it also suppresses the release of the stress hormone cortisol. You can help lower anxiety by learning to relax your body. One technique involves progressive muscle relaxation. Tire each muscle, tensing it as hard as possible for up to 10 seconds before releasing and letting it rest. Progress from your right foot to your left all the way up the body, one muscle at a time.

You will relax your body, and your mind will follow. Sleep is key to reducing anxiety. Sleep helps to heal the brain, clean out toxins and waste products, process memories and regulate emotions. You may notice that you are edgier when you are sleep-deprived. If you focus on healthy sleep hygiene, this can help reduce anxiety. Be sure to get a restful night sleep the Thursday and Friday preceding a test day. Eight hours a night is optimal.

The brain is listening to the body, so be attentive to the physical state of your body. If you furrow your brow, frown, and clench your fists, your external physical form can affect your inner state. Likewise a relaxed, open posture can affect your inner emotional state.

Practice sitting in a relaxed, calm, open manner to create that same inner landscape. One technique that has worked for some students is called tapping or the Emotional Freedom Technique. This is a super simple process, involve tapping a series of points on your body in a particular sequence: Side of eye 3. Tapping somehow has an effect in anxiety reduction and has been shown to help people with PTSD and anxiety disorders.

Ground yourself in nature: Getting out into nature can help lower levels of anxiety. A quick walk in the woods can change activation patterns in the brain and lower rumination and focus on negative emotions. Emotional regulation increases when we are more connected to nature. Ground yourself through human connections: Relationships and human connections can dampen your biological response to stress.

Our human connections can stimulate the release of oxytocin, a hormone which helps regulate anxiety by decreasing our levels of cortisol, a stress hormone. Oxytocin appears to make the amygdala less reactive to fearful stimuli and may ultimately be used in treating anxiety disorders.

Use centering physical objects: Having a centering stone or other grounding device can help regulate anxiety levels. This is a simple technique to have a physical object in your pocket that you can hold if you are feeling nervous.

Use centering mental images or wisdom figures: Carl Jung explored the grounding effects of accessing archetypal centering figures. When our little self is feeling scared and insecure, we can turn inwardly to a more developed aspect of our self, an inner spiritual or religious figure to help us to recenter and ground our anxiety. Evoking that centering energy within can help. Practice taking tests in conditions which replicate the test environment: Recreate, as best as possible, the anxiety-inducing condition during practice.

If being in a big testing room stimulates anxiety, you must practice your tests in a similar condition.

This was our bonus strategy on the podcast. Meditation is all about self-regulation. If you practice meditation, and learn to observe your thoughts and reactions with composure, you will strengthen your self-regulation skills and be able to stay calm in a variety of conditions. There are so many applications here, which apply to numerous areas of education and life. We will all face stressful situations in a great many contexts. Students can learn to take self-regulation strategies from one area of life and see if they can apply them to other areas.

Find out what works. Practice and get better and better at bringing yourself back to calm, to optimize performance and happiness. Jed Applerouth is the founder and CEO of Applerouth Tutoring Services , an education services company with offices in major metropolitan areas across the country.

A published educational researcher, Jed has investigated facets of student cognition, memory, motivation, and learning strategies to enhance the pedagogy of his team of educators.

Since Jed has lectured extensively across the country at national conferences and high schools on topics ranging from test test anxiety to academic motivation. Outside of work, Jed is an avid landscape painter and photographer and serves on the board of the therapeutic STAR foundation. Essay Workshop In A Box. This article was given to us by the folks at Magoosh. Rachel Kapelke-Dale When you're prepping for a test as hyped as the SAT, it can be tempting to dig your old algebra notebooks out of the attic and try to make sense of them you saved those, right?

Math Math is the subject on the SAT for which students are most likely to dive for their class notes. Reading Now, on to the subject that students are least likely to turn to their class notes for.

Need more Essay Help? Check out our Online course for writing the personal statement. Listen to the Podcast Episode. Even if the activities are a little silly.

Learn more about getting one-on-one admissions help from our team. Don't get to the point of being Finn. Wondering how you can get more involved? Check out the podcast: Why are we talking about anxiety in the first place? Test anxiety is more prevalent in later grades. Students with disabilities, gifted students, and females tend to experience higher rates of test anxiety. University of Florida research.

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