It is natural to feel some anxiety regarding tests. A small amount can be constructive, encouraging preparation and motivation. However, too much anxiety can negatively affect test performance and academic success. Students who are under prepared due to poor study habits, inadequate time management, and weak organizational skills can experience test anxiety. As well, students who are properly prepared can suffer cognitive, physiological, and emotional distress before, during, or after a test.

Tips to reduce test anxiety

Taking a testBefore the Test

  • Practice successful study habits
  • Include self testing in your preparation
  • Eat a healthy meal
  • Get a good night’s sleep
  • Think positive! Tell yourself “It will be OK, I can do this”
  • Arrive at the exam a little early
  • Don’t cram or commiserate with classmates before going into the exam
  • Find a seat with the least distractions

Students Taking TestDuring the Test

  • Relax: practice deep breathing, visualization, and muscle relaxation.
  • Read through the instructions very carefully. Don’t hesitate to ask for clarification from the professor, if needed
  • Focus only on the test, not past tests or other students
  • Do the easy items first and come back to the hard ones
  • Don’t watch the clock
  • Don’t’ get stuck on a question, if you are unsure move on and come back to this question at the end
  • Do not change answers. Your first instinct is usually right!
  • Check your work before you hand the test in

High School StudentAfter the Test

Reward yourself!



Follow these suggestions to help control and reduce test anxiety. If you continue to experience test anxiety make an appointment with a counselor in Counseling Services.