Maizie Simpson

5 TED Talks to Boost Your Confidence Before Test Day

If you’re preparing to take a standardized test right now, you’re probably experiencing all kinds of emotions. On a scale of excited can’t-focus jitters to absolute dread, you’re feeling both of those and everything in between. We get it. You’re under a lot of pressure and stress leading up to the big day and sometimes that can wear on your confidence and sanity.

We don’t want that, and we know you’re going to do just fine, but we also know that sometimes it helps to get a little reassurance. That’s why we’ve compiled a list of our favorite confidence-boosting TED Talks to pull you out of those low days and hurdle you on toward success on test day. Enjoy. 🙂


1. The Optimism Bias

Did you know having an optimistic outlook can actually change your future? Well, kinda. According to Tali Sharot in this TED Talk, most people are naturally inclined toward what she calls “the Optimism Bias”, which is great news because having a positive outlook on life can lower stress and boost your motivation. That leads to better real life outcomes for you and a healthier lifestyle. A little dose of positivity can go a long way on test day.


2. The Skill of Self Confidence

Dr. Ivan Joseph, the Athletic Director and head varsity soccer coach at Ryerson University, explains why self confidence is important on and off the playing field.


3. Inside the Mind of Champion Athletes

Yes, it’s more confidence advice from a sports perspective, but stay with us here. There’s something to be said for athletes who are able to master a skill and get in “the zone”. You’ll also want to be able to enter a similar kind of flow state on test day, but you’ll need to get your mind right first!

In this TED Talk, Martin Hagger discusses specific techniques that athletes and coaches use to get psychologically prepared for game day, and how those techniques could be used to maximize performance. (As you listen to this one, replace “game day” with “test day” and we promise you’ll see some parallels.)


4. Your Body Language Shapes Who You Are

This is one of the more popular Ted Talks so maybe you’ve heard it before, but it’s definitely still worth adding to the list. In this one, Amy Cuddy gives everyone some quirky advice for boosting your confidence on important days: power posing.

That’s right, getting big and striking a “Superman” pose right before your test could change the way you think about yourself and get you in the right mindset for total domination. Give it a try! (But you might want to do it in the bathroom … you know, where people can’t see you.)


5. How to Stop Screwing Yourself Over

In this TED Talk, Mel Robbins reminds us how incredible it is that you and I even exist. (Did you know we beat a one in four-hundred trillion chance to be here today? That’s nuts.) She encourages us be confident and push the boundaries of our comfort zones in order to achieve great feats. You’ll walk away feeling like the ability to change your own life — and your test score — is totally in your hands.


Can you think of a confidence-boosting Ted Talk that we missed? Let us know in the comments! 🙂



  • Maizie Simpson

    Maizie writes about Magoosh and gets others to talk about Magoosh. A graduate of the University of Arizona (Bear Down!) with a BA in Journalism, she loves nuanced grammar rules, learning strange languages, and traveling to new places. She has an unnatural obsession with Middle Eastern politics and Mexican food.