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Preventing (and Dealing with) Test Anxiety

Slow and steady wins the race

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It’s well-known that the best way to study for a test is over a longer period of time. But even if you’ve been studying for months and months, you’ll probably get hit by the last-minute jitters that inspire even reluctant students to spend 5 hours a day staring at vocabulary lists. Resist the temptation. Cramming doesn’t do you any favors: you’ll almost certainly forget most of the information you “learn”in the last 48 hours before the test, and moreover, all that studying will make you feel under-prepared even if you’re not. Put the books down. Have a cup of tea. You’re almost there.

The morning of

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Of course you’re going to go to bed at a reasonable hour the night before the test (to make it easier to sleep, try to go to bed early for the last few nights, so your body can get used to it). But calm preparation the morning of your exam is even more important than getting every last second of shut-eye you can. Wake up in plenty of time to have breakfast, get dressed, gather your materials, and travel to the testing site. If you’re early, go for a walk. Don’t let preventable circumstances make you nervous.

Let go of your mistakes

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During the test, try to stay in the moment. One of the worst feelings is to open up the test booklet, scan the first reading passage, and be struck by the idea that you have no idea what it means. If that happens to you (at any point in the test), do your best to leave it in the past. Not comfortable with your grasp of the first listening assignment? That’s fine—you’ll just have to be extra-awesome in the second one! Similarly, don’t get cocky. If the test feels laughably easy, maybe you should take a minute to look back over your answers. Don’t get messed up by stupid mistakes.

Pace yourself (and take all the time you have)

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On a similar note, take your time getting through the test. Although it’s tempting to rush, if you finish 20 minutes early, you’ll just spend those 20 minutes worrying about the test. So go ahead and take the maximum time for each section to review, consider, and revise. Of course, I want you to take all the time you have, but no more. Keep an eye on the clock (you’ve done enough timed practice by now that that shouldn’t stress you out and is probably second nature), and budget a few minutes at the end of the section to review your work before you submit.

Shout hooray!

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You did it!
Photo Credit: Paraflyer / Serendigity / VFS Digital Design / anieto2k / Eva Rinaldi Celebrity and Live Music Photographer

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