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Overcoming Test Anxiety

Tips for reducing test anxiety

What symptoms do you experience when getting ready to take a test?

Testing Anxiety Impacts You Physically, Emotionally, Behaviorally, And Cognitively

Physical Response

You experience test anxiety because your brain perceives the test as a threat.

A threat triggers a biological process,

  • brain shuts down.
  • hormones are released
  • heart rate increases & breathing changes
  • you run away or stay and fight, or freeze

If the threat is a tiger, the hormonal flooding might be helpful. However, it is an inappropriate response in test-taking situations and is causing you harm, because it shuts down your ability to think.

If you are experiencing anxiety symptoms - you want to re-engage your executive brain. Find a calming activity that works for you and practice using it.

  • Breathe - 5 deep breaths, in and out
  • Focus on a calming thought or visual
  • Slowly count to 10 
  • Touch a calming object like a bracelet



Emotional Response Behavioral Response Cognitive Response
  • Guilt
  • Anger
  • Depression
  • Procrastination
  • Excessive study
  • Sleeping too much or too little
  • Inability to relax
  • Negative self-talk
  • Difficulty with concentration and focus
  • Difficulty recalling key terms and concepts
  • Difficulty organizing and expressing your thoughts
  • Going blank on questions.
  • Remembering the answers after the test is over.

Additional Resources

Test Anxiety