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Don’t Stress Over Tests

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It’s normal to feel a little nervous and stressed out before, and sometimes during, a test. And it’s not always a bad thing – a little bit of nervous energy can keep you on your toes. But for some students, that nervousness is so intense that it interferes with their concentration or even their ability to take a test at all. But there are things you can do to manage your test anxiety.  Here are just a few:

Study smart – and early! Don’t wait until the night before a test to start studying. As soon as the teacher announces there will be a test, start planning your study schedule. Study everything – your notes, homework assignments, textbook. Make flash cards and ask a friend or family member to quiz you. Whichever study method works best for you, start getting ready early! You’ll feel more confident come test day if you have been organized and preparing from day one.

Get a good night’s sleep. This is probably a no-brainer, but you’d be surprised at how even an hour or two less sleep can affect your concentration and your mental sharpness, which can really affect how well you do on tests. Try to avoid the temptation of staying up late to get last-minute studying in and go to sleep a little early. We’re not talking be in bed by 8 p.m. or anything…just try to get a full night’s rest.

Eat something nutritious. If you know your test will be first thing in the morning, make sure you eat a good breakfast. If you’re too nervous to eat before you leave home, grab a piece of fruit or a bagel and try to eat it before you get to school. If you know your test will be after lunch, make sure you eat a healthy lunch – don’t go for the French fries and soda. You don’t want to be struck by hunger pangs that can affect concentration or be so hyper on sugar and caffeine that you can’t think straight or be practically comatose from the giant burger you wolfed down.

Be prepared with the materials you’ll need. Make sure you know what items you need to have for the test and pack them the night before, such as #2 pencils, a calculator or notes you’ve prepared if your teacher is allowing you to take an open-note test.

Keep calm and pace yourself. Stress can affect your memory, so it’s really important to stay calm before and during a test. Close your eyes and take a few deep breaths. And don’t rush! Take your time and READ the instructions and the questions carefully. Establish what you don’t know and come back to the question later, if you have the time. Go back and review your work, especially with math problems or essay questions. Don’t work too slowly though; you don’t want to leave the test half-finished.

Ask for help. If tests stress you out so much that you can’t function during a test, then your test anxiety may need a little attention. Talk to your teacher, your guidance counselor, your parents or tutor about the problem and find out what resources they can offer to help you overcome the problem.

Excerpts from Making It Count

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