Dealing With Test Stress

McKenna Larson

Testing season is upon us and with that comes testing stress. Here are my tips to overcome at least some of the test stress that plagues Mine’s students. 

Don’t cram before the exam. 

Studying should be done in the days or weeks before a test and test day really should be saved for getting your mind right to sit in the exam room. If you have found that cramming right before a test has been helpful in the past, I would rethink that strategy when it comes to the math-heavy and information-dense tests of Mines. 

Establish a test day routine. 

I am a big fan of routines, especially around stressful events. A routine can seem intimidating, but it doesn’t have to be crazy detailed or have a million steps to be effective. If you find that working out, showering, reading a book, and then having a giant meal of tacos before an exam helps you feel less stressed then use that routine to get your brain into testing mode throughout the semester. If you are at a loss for routine ideas, there are plenty of resources online to help you form some healthy habits to combat test stress. 

Stay hydrated and eat before exams. 

A hungry stomach is the enemy of a student taking a test and can be a huge distraction when you’re trying to focus on differential equations. Eat a meal, big or small, before you go into an exam to avoid a stomachache and low blood sugar. Staying hydrated is always important, so make sure you keep up with water between the energy drinks and coffee of a typical exam day. 

Experiment with different relaxation techniques. 

Deep breathing, meditation, positive visualization, light exercise, reading a chapter of your favorite book, any of these things, and more could help your mind relax and prevent some test jitters before you walk into the exam room. If you’ve found that meditation and calming tea just don’t work for you, try something else! The point isn’t to force yourself into relaxation activities; the point is to settle the mind and body before a stressful event in whatever way works for you. 

Communicate with professors

If you have a hard time with test stress talk to your professors about their advice for that specific class. They may give you insight on how to focus your studying and help you work through difficult material causing stress. If test stress is turning to test anxiety, don’t hesitate to contact the DSS and the CARE team to see if you could get mental health services or testing accommodations. 

Don’t just take the advice from this article or from other people—do the research, try different techniques, and see what helps you the best. 

Remember that a test is not the end of your life and sometimes you’ll make mistakes. Listen to what your body needs when you feel stress and just try your best on those exams.

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