How to manage your test stress

ARE IN THE MIDDLE OF A TRAINING COURSE AND HAVE UPCOMING TESTS THAT ARE CAUSING YOU ANXIETY AND STRESS? WE KNOW THAT FEELING ALL TOO WELL AND HAVE TWO BITS OF GOOD NEWS FOR YOU. First: a bit of nervousness is part of every test. Second: with our tips, you can take control of your test stress and anxiety.

Test anxiety and test stress – we are all familiar with these unpleasant feelings. Regardless of how old we are or how much experience we have, tests always cause us stress. Perhaps you are feeling completely relaxed about it right now. But you should be aware that the stress will come at some point. The closer the test comes, the more likely you are to experience anxiety.

But what exactly causes our stress about tests? Self-doubt, fear of failure or pressure to perform are all possible causes. And sometimes the anxiety grows to such an extent that your mind goes blank.

Goodbye to blanks

Your mind goes blank on test day because it is already full of negative images. You imagine submitting a blank sheet, getting a bad mark, or stammering and losing your voice during an oral exam. You worry about the experts making fun of you or about looking like a failure in your field. If this thought spiral has already taken control, you need to start by breaking it.

You can find out how to do this here: “How You Can Stop Your Negative Thought Spiral”

test-stress-negative-thought-spiral

6 tips for dealing with test stress

Tip 1 : Stay away from sedatives

Sedatives only provide a short-term solution. They can also cause undesirable side-effects. Or worse, they may even lead to addiction.

Tip 2 : Remember positive experiences

You have undoubtedly already overcome other exams and passed other tests in the past. Remember the positive experiences you have had with tests. This gives you a feeling of security, which will help you to prepare for this test.

Tip 3 : Nothing comes from nothing

Study as much and as long as it takes for you to feel secure and positive. If you are motivated to study and enjoy it, you will absorb the material more effectively.

Important: do not compare yourself to others. The amount of time each person invests is highly individual.

Tip 4 : Name your anxiety

Take a moment and consider: what is the worst that can actually happen? This gives your anxiety a name, and identifying your anxiety helps you to deal with it. It means you are processing your anxieties, rather than suppressing them.

Tip 5 : Create your own personal mantra

Create a short mantra to use during your preparation and on test day. For example: “I have studied enough. Yes, I feel secure. I am excited about the test. I will pass the test.” Or create your own phrases that give you strength and confidence. Say this mantra to yourself several times a day. Write the phrases down and stick them to the fridge. Doing so builds up a positive thinking habit. This in turn will help you feel secure and will boost your self-confidence on test day.

Tip 6 : Look forward to the test

Yes, you heard that right – look forward to the test! This might well sound a bit strange, and it requires a change of perspective. A test is the culmination of a phase of your life. You have invested a lot of time in it and had to make sacrifices. After the test, a new phase begins, with new freedoms and possibilities. This is certainly a reason to celebrate and something to look forward to!

Don’t forget, you don’t need to know everything for a test. You always need a little luck as well.

mind-goes-blank

And if your mind goes blank despite all this?

What should you do if the nightmare comes true and your mind goes blank during the test despite all this? Stay calm, breathe deeply.

Think about these tips to help you collect yourself.

Tip 1 : Ask to repeat the question

If your mind goes blank during an oral exam, the best thing to do is to say so. Say to the examiner: “I have lost my train of thought. Could you please repeat the question?” You could also take another approach: “My mind has gone blank, could you please withdraw this question and ask another?

Examiners are not monsters, and they have sympathy for your situation.

Tip 2 : Your mantra will help

During written tests, you might also panic when skimming through the answers and feel like you have forgotten everything. Remember your mantra. It will help you calm down in no time and let you get back to focussing on the right answer.

If this advice has not reassured you enough, get in touch with a mynd coach – the first consultation is free.

written by Felicitas Jucker

You might also find the following myndblogs helpful:
– “How is Cognitive Behavioural Therapy used to reduce anxiety effectively?” 
– “Helpful tips for stress relief

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