Reducing anxiety, and especially test anxiety

lack of preparation (errors in time management, poor study habits, failure to properly organize material);
past experiences of doing poorly on tests;
negative thinking and worries;
cramming the night before the exam (poor preparation and fatique).

1. Engage in deep breathing for 2-5 minutes. Close your eyes and concentrate on the air going in and out of your lungs. Take long, deep breaths, fill your lungs and abdomen, hold your breath, and then exhale.
2. Tense and relax different muscle groups. For example, if your shoulders are tense pull them back and hold them for a few seconds, then relax. This will help you to be aware of the relaxation of muscles and help you to relax more.
3. Engage in guided imagery for a few minutes. Pick a scene that you find peaceful, beautiful, and natural. Think about what you see, what you hear, what you feel and what you smell while in this scene. 
4. Engage in positive self talk. This involves: (a) thinking about rational responses to counter negative thoughts (e.g., instead of saying "I'm going to fail this test" say "I have the ability to do this, I just need to get some help."); (b) thoughts that help you to cope with stress (e.g., "a little anxiety is helpful. I will just try my best."); and (c) thoughts that keep you on task (e.g., "I can write this paper if I break it into smaller steps.")

Suggestions to reduce test anxiety...prior to the test:
practice above  activities that help reduce stress so that you can do them during the exam;
sleep well the night before the exam;
exercise to release anxiety and excess energy;
eat well, but no caffeine, before the exam;
keep yourself relaxed (avoid stressful situations and people who are anxious just before the exam);
allow yourself plenty of time to study (don't cram);
buid up confidence by reviewing the material frequently;

Suggestions to reduce... during the test:
do above  activities that help reduce stress...between questions;
look over the exam, read the directions twice;
identify easiest questions and do those first;
don't rush through the test (work at a comfortable pace and don't worry about time);
remember to breathe (take a deep breathe between questions);
ask the instructor a question;
think about the rewards of doing well; 
get a drink of water and try to clear your mind;
eat something or chew gum as an anxiety distraction;

click on this image for an audio message on test anxiety

Reducing anxiety will help you reach your potential in any endeavor.

Professor Thomas M. Lancraft
Human Anatomy and Physiology Courses
at St. Petersburg College
St. Petersburg/Gibbs Campus

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