Reducing Test Anxiety

We all get test anxiety from time to time, especially when the test were about to take is important to us, or we don't feel that were prepared. Here are some tips for overcoming this anxiety. Not all of them will work for you. Read through the list and choose the ones that are best for you and your situation.

  • Be prepared. Theres no way to feel less anxious about taking a test without preparing for it. You need to study as often as you can until you feel confident you know the material. The NCLEX covers a lot of material, which can be overwhelming. Break the test down into several sections, and focus on each section until you're comfortable with it. Each week, review the previous sections you've learned.
  • If you can, exercise. Exercise is a great way to relieve stress and anxiety.
  • Practice deep breathing. Whether its while you're studying, or when you're taking the test, if you can feel yourself starting to get anxious, stop what you're doing. Close your eyes, and focus on breathing deeply. Do this for two to five minutes until you feel the anxiety starting to subside.
  • The day of the test, if you start to go blank, read through the question again, without reading the answers. Relax and form the answer in your mind before looking for it in the list. If you still cant think of the answer, don't panic. Its one question, and doesn't mean you wont know the answers on the rest of the test. Take your best guess, and move on.
  • Use visualization. Before the test, visualize yourself taking the test calmly and doing well. On the day of the test, if you begin to get anxious, return to your visualization or picture yourself some place that you enjoy, where you feel relaxed. Once the anxiety subsides, refocus on the exam.
  • Don't focus on anyone else taking the test. Don't worry if other students are finishing before you do. Its not a race. If the sounds of other students distract you, take earplugs. At the NCLEX testing centers, earplugs are available. You just need to ask for them.
  • Use positive self-talk. If you become anxious as you're studying, pause and give yourself a pep talk. When you start thinking “I cant do this,” stop and say, “I can do this. I am doing it. I'm studying and preparing. I know this information. I will pass the test.” If you become anxious while taking the test, you can do the same thing, only in your thoughts. Couple these positive thoughts with relaxed breathing, and your anxiety should subside.

Last Updated: 05/19/2014

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